Artist of the Week: Mary Chapin Carpenter

Posted by Greg on Aug 2, 2018 in Music |

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Our artist of the week is a bit of a departure from the norm but so be it. Mary Chapin Carpenter has weaved together a very nice career for herself. She’s earned ACM and CMA Awards in the early 1990s and to date has won five Grammy Awards. Most importantly though she keeps releasing new music. Her latest album, Sometimes Just the Sky, was released in late March on her own Lambent Light Records via Thirty Tigers.

Ostensibly a career retrospective the album looks back on her 30 years making music and selects one song from each of her last 12 albums as well as a new cut, the title track, which bookends the album. Produced by Ethan Johns at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios outside Bath, England, the album re-imagines a dozen of her most celebrated songs. Though the album is admittedly sleepy, cerebral and serene, the winning moments are worth championing.

Whether it’s the vulnerable and introspective “I Have a Need for Solitude” or the seductive and slinky “Superman” there’s a deft touch at work on each of these songs that bears repeated listens. The rousing organ on “One Small Heart” and the rich mandolin and violin fills on “What Does It Mean To Travel” help accentuate the album’s first half. The disc’s second act labors a bit but winning cuts include the urgent and kinetic “Naked to the Eye” and the solacing and amiable “This is Love.”

Carpenter has always been one of the nation’s best lyricists and that title is elucidated in the nostalgic “This Shirt” and the convicting “The Calling.” Truth be told each of the 13 songs on Sometimes Just the Sky is a novel in and of itself and it’s those memorable words combined with Johns’ rich production that makes Sometimes Just the Sky worth the repeated listens. Heck, the 90 minute instrumental outro to finish the album is worth it alone, but if you’re like us and are enamored with Carpenter, dive in and enjoy this album.Better yet, catch her live as she’s touring the country through the fall. We’re hoping to see her in Orlando in the fall.

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