Album Reviews

Tom Chapin


Artist:     Tom Chapin

Album:     Threads

Label:     Sundance Music

Release Date:     07.07.2017


Although there is no title song for this 25th album from Tom Chapin, there are enough musical “threads” in the coverage of past present and future, to fill up a Coats & Clark factory. True to the long musical tradition of the extended Chapin family, this album is a real family-and-friends effort. Along for the ride are brother Steve, daughters Abagail and Lily, longtime friend “Big John” Wallace, muse wife Bonnie and inspiring grandchildren Willa and Elspeth, and many of Tom’s longtime musician friends.

In the tune “When The Family Sings,” I heard biographical lines that brought on sweet memories like “We grew up with a father, who was playing in the band “ and recalled the times I was fortunate to record with Tom’s jazz legend father, Jim, and do a few concerts with his big brother Harry.

Tom (along with writers Si Kahn and Scott Scott Ainslie) skillfully blends the past into the present with tunes for thought, ones that tell the stories of Julia Ward Howe in “Mothers Day For Peace” and historic Chapin relatives in “Home Again.” There is also a healthy dose of universal clarion calls, woven into this baker’s dozen, with “Money Out Of Misery” and “We Will Not Stop,” a tune that would have been handy in the ‘60s and is, regrettably, too useful again. Then there is one that really stopped this tunesmith in his tracks; “Fair Pay Fair Play Blues” cleverly yet forcefully covers the devastation to musical creators brought upon us from the likes of Pandora, Spotify, YouTube and streaming, set to a delightful ragtime tune.

Like a grand piano, Tom and company hits all 88 keys, pulling “Threads” together with a strong ties of songcraft, musicianship, and traditions that—for me—will never get old.

—Ken Spooner

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