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CD REVIEW: Beth Nielsen Chapman - Hearts of Glass BY ADRIAN CLARK FOR COUNTRY MUSIC NEWS INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE & RADIO SHOW



 

Beth Nielsen Chapman - Hearts of Glass 
Release Date: 9 February 2018
11 Tracks/ Time: 41:39
Genre: Americana
Label: Proper Records / 2018 BNC Records
Rating: 3.1/2 Stars out of 5

Chart Success:
Debut: No.1 UK Country iTunes Chart (#61 UK iTunes all-genres)
Official UK Country Album Top 20 (chart week 22 February 2018) debut at No.2 

Track List: Come to Mine / Old Church Hymns & Nursery Rhymes / Epitaph for Love / Enough for Me / Rage on Rage /
You're Still My Valentine / All for the Love / Child Again / If My World Didn't Have You / Life Holds On/ Dancer to the Drum

HEARTS OF GLASS is an 11-track project that was released in the UK prior to a four-week tour. It marked Beth Nielsen Chapman’s twelfth solo album and her first new material since THE MIGHTY SKY dropped 6 years ago (she also released Liv On, a collection of healing songs with Olivia Newton-John and Amy Sky in 2016).

Another first was she tasked producer duties to Sam Ashworth allowing him complete creative control. He is the son of Charlie Peacock (Civil Wars producer). After early conversations with Ashworth, Chapman felt self-assured that this would be a successful partnership. Chapman has been making wonderful records since 1990 with many top producers, but she had been at least a co-producer.

“Creatively this was an interesting new dynamic for me,” Chapman shared. “Handing over so many of the decisions and trusting the process, while trying to quiet my inner control freak. By doing so, I ended up, not only with something I loved, but I learned a lot about myself and the places you can go when you let someone else drive.”

For those that study album credits I was constantly drawn to her name throughout the 90s with a catalogue of many favourite cuts such as “Down on My Knees” (Trisha Yearwood), “Five Minutes” (Lorrie Morgan), “Happy Girl” (Martina McBride) “Strong Enough to Bend” (Tanya Tucker), and the CMA winning song “This Kiss” (Faith Hill). 
Like many her 1997 album Sand and Water (co-produced with Rodney Crowell) was a starting point to her solo work and remains very special to this day.
Having lost a husband to cancer and a breast cancer survivor herself her songs have healing powers and with her heartfelt references to grief she has captured better than most.

New set HEARTS OF GLASS is a collection of sparse arrangements that continues that signature vein of vulnerability with positive messages in finding strength, which includes several new compositions and a few outstanding versions of rediscovered songs. Riveting and sparse, these songs, like the heart, traverse the delicate line between vulnerability and strength.

As well as new material fans will recognize some of the tracks which have been re-recorded from earlier albums along with songs she has written but had never recorded herself and arranged for guitar rather than piano.

The shiny new Come To Mine kicks off the album, a co-write with Graham Gouldman and Kevin Montgomery that materialized from Chris Difford’s songwriting retreat in Somerset. The carefree song has some gentle catchy rolling rhythms as love blooms in a confused modern world.

Old Church Hymns & Nursery Rhymes has beautiful looking back imagery and was written by Beth first appearing on Waylon Jennings 1990 album The Eagle.

The song Epitaph For Love, featuring Matt Slocum on cello, is a delicate and haunting ballad. It talks of being thankful for what you have and overcoming sad losses through love.

Enough For Me has a joyful upbeat vibe with warm touches courtesy of employing flugelhorns in the bouncy mix.

Rage on Rage is a dark affair re-visiting her 1993 album YOU HOLD THE KEY. It speaks of drinking which leads to domestic abuse which has resurfaced from the past: Oh, my sweet one, What have I done, Turn back the page and see, All that was done to me

You’re Still My Valentine is a softly spacious lullaby which lets the singer to be front and centre with words drifting perhaps in the Paris romantic air. 

All for the Love is a soothing affair and the gentle Child Again is reborn from her 1990 debut which paints a picture of an elderly woman in a nursing home reliving her youth.

If My World Didn't Have You is a tender dreamy number (Rodney Crowell provides background vocals) which first appeared appears on the Willie Nelson’s album A Horse Called Music (1989).

Life Holds On, the opening cut on her 1990 debut here is stripped right back to Beth’s voice and the throbbing of an electric guitar with hymn-like harmonies.

Dancer to the Drum is again a new reading which treads an unknown path as a child embarks on life: One is born into a life of hunger, One will be a king or a rich man's son

Essential Download: Come to Mine, Old Church Hymns & Nursery Rhymes / Epitaph for Love

Adrian Clark for Country Music News International

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