With her sliding-scale sense of blues pitch, Mary Gauthier sings her minimalist folk narratives in a sleepy-time drawl that hints at bad weather and worse times. The Louisiana native’s Louisiana-Texas-Tennessee Americana manner may not be to your taste, but I think she’s better at it than Lucinda Williams. Gauthier has vocal presence, and I admire her early work: Her 1997 full-length, Dixie Kitchen, sounds juicy even when Gauthier is celebrating a skeleton town or contemplating the ways of the world. Her more recent music is equally accomplished, and the songwriter does a turn as jazz vocalist on Nashville producer Ed Pettersen’s new Happening: A Movement in 12 Acts, which gives Gauthier the chance to stretch. Soul aficionados will note that Candi Staton covered Gauthier’s “Mercy Now” on Staton’s 2009 album Who’s Hurting Now? — one of many notable interpretations of Gauthier’s genius.