Saturday, April 21, 2007
Mary Chapin Carpenter--The Calling (2007)
Artist-Mary Chapin Carpenter
Release Date-Mar 6, 2007
Youtube online videos-Watch here and here
Review-Reviewed by AMG. One thing is certain: Mary Chapin Carpenter has heard the sound of the new Nashville. She brings the electric guitars and she brings her Martin; she allows the mix to bring up those drums and basslines. She's no longer afraid of rock & roll as long as it blends with her brand of folkish country. After years of walking the outside, despite a hit record or two, seemingly afraid to really let it rip, she has arrived here, on The Calling. Oh yeah, yeah, that's a good thing; it may even be a great thing. Carpenter has always allowed her songwriting to take precedence over her recorded performances, and even though her album performances have sometimes been stellar, they've also been just a little too restrained. The title track that opens The Calling and "We're All Right" rock harder than anything she's ever cut. The beautiful thing is that with the bigger volume and the loosed electric six-strings, her big voice has more room and those killer hooks she writes don't disappear in the mix. They come off sounding like the anthems they should be. Carpenter has a hell of a way of looking at life from all sides, from behind the closed doors, from the empty lanes and the darkening countryside. She has always had a special way of looking at fate and destiny from the perch of those lives that hold on with only a shred of hope but refuse to give up or let go. That eagerness to survive in the face of all odds, or to affirm the essential goodness of a moment where one of her protagonists can simply breathe, has been her art. She does this better than most and is second to none in her picaresque narratives of the wish to be free, and of embracing freedom as an alternative to despair. And while the music has never matched the tautness of her lyrics, it does here. That doesn't mean the gentleness is all gone. On "Twilight" (a song James Taylor or Nanci Griffith should beg her to cover), the acoustic guitars, vibraphone, cajon (by Russ Kunkel, no less), and electrics blend gently but empathically. "On and On It Goes" is another ballad, loaded with emotion but delivered with the empathy of an old friend imparting a story. The huge drums on "It Must Have Happened" are, along with the title cut, sure bets for videos and singles. This cut just rocks in the way Sugarland rock, straight up, fat, with a message and enough heart to fill a Bruce Springsteen record. The refrain is utterly gorgeous. The jangling Rickenbackers on "Your Life Story" is another candidate for a single. The bottom line, as the album unfolds — whether it's "On with the Song," (written for the Dixie Chicks during their season in hell and an actual anthem), the sweet electric ballad "Why Shouldn't We," or the whispering closer "Bright Morning Star" — is that it never ceases not only to please, but to pull the listener deeper into Carpenter's wide-ranging poetic world. Time will tell, of course, but in The Calling, Carpenter may have her finest moment yet; it also feels like an artistic rebirth. These songs come from her marrow and the conviction she sings them with proves it. Carpenter and her co-producer Matt Rollings should be awfully proud of this one.
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