From the Bo Diddley-inspired duet with Todd Snider, “Love in the Wind,” to the rocking “I Don’t Want Nobody,” to the relaxed comfort of Hoagy Carmichael’s “The Nearness of You,” it’s clear from the opening three tracks that Marshall Chapman is not easy to pin down. She doesn’t stray far from her similarly eclectic 2010 release, Big Lonesome, as she brings the same cast of musicians (Mike Utley, Will Kimbrough, Jim Mayer and Casey Wood) aboard. “Everyone, myself included, just seemed to pick up and soar from where we left off… It was magic,” Chapman said.
Chapman, now in her mid-60s, channels her hard-earned wisdom, addressing mortality, most directly in “Not Afraid to Die,” and in the title track. She’s totally immersed in this material, especially in the latter half of the record. “Waiting for the Music” is both dramatic and memorable. While the songs themselves don’t directly mention Mexico as on the previous releases, Chapman attributes her time spent there to providing her the deep inspiration for these tunes. She sings purposefully while adding the appropriate emotional timbre for each song.
Thankfully, the weighty material does not overwhelm the album as a whole. The up-tempo rockers and uniquely arranged covers provide a nice balance. “The Tall Girl” is confident and in charge. Listen up.
– Jim Hynes