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Mary Chapin Carpenter
The Essential
Mary Chapin Carpenter

Review By Steven Stone
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Mary Chapin Carpenter The Essential Mary Chapin Carpenter

CD Number: Columbia Legacy CK 90772 

 

  LListening to Mary Chapin Carpenter is like drinking wine from a bottle that came from a case you've had sitting in your cellar for a while. Every time you take a sip you're reminded of just how sublime it tastes, and you wonder why you waited so long to open up another bottle.

As the most recent release in Columbia's "Essential" Series, this CD serves as a sort of super "greatest hits" anthology. You'll find material from six of Mary Chapin Carpenter's eight Columbia releases, with only her first, Hometown Girl, and A Place in the World, unrepresented. Carpenter herself wrote all but three of the songs on The Essential Mary Chapin Carpenter. The exceptions are Lucinda William's "Passionate Kisses," Robb Royer and Roger Lynn's "Quittin' Time," and the traditional song "10,000 Miles." Some of her own songs such as "Stones in the Road," "Only a Dream," and "Almost Home," have the fervor of a truly great political/social tune on par with the work of Bob Dylan or Woody Guthrie. Others such as "Shut Up and Kiss Me" and "I Feel Lucky" capture a rollicking goodtime country mood comparable with the best Hank Williams song. When Mary Chapin Carpenter is on, her work rivals anyone who has ever penned a song.

Consistently sterling production values and arrangements are another trademark of Mary Chapin Carpenter's career. Her longtime musical collaborator John Jennings not only produced or co-produced all her albums, but also played guitar and arranged much of her material. A gifted songwriter in his own right, with three of his own solo releases, Jennings polishes and highlights Carpenters songs the way a gifted cutter handles a diamond.

Although longtime fans will find nothing new on The Essential Mary Chapin Carpenter, they may still find it an irresistible addition to their short list of ideal road trip CDs. For those who never acquired any Mary Chapin Carpenter discs The Essential Mary Chapin Carpenter makes the perfect introduction.

 

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