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The Chapin Sisters - Lake Bottom LP

Lake Bottom LP

The Chapin Sisters

Available from The Chapin Sisters' web site.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com).

I guess it's ironic that Olivia and the other uber-feminist music labels put out so much mediocrity and crap, with the occasional winner, while non-dogmatic labels have been so effortlessly adept at producing female groups like this one, which shines from beginning to end. There's probably a cogent politically incorrect insight in there somewhere, but I'm disinclined to pursue it at the moment. The Chapin Sisters are kindred to Festival, reviewed in FAME, but a bit less emphatically a cappella in their base. The three boast sirenically beautiful three-part harmonies maintained expertly through the entire 11-cut disc, but more often in a lead-voice-and-chorus combination backed by delicate guitars (Abigail and Lily Chapin - Jessica's the third Chapin Sister but plays no instruments) and miscellaneous sessioneers on bass and etc.

The lyrics range from a bit pointless to curious to shuddery, the latter two traits, I have no doubt, precisely intended as coldly unorthodox looks at the underside of love and relationships (and if that wasn't the intent, then they're really shuddery!):
Don't wanna live sad and lonely, no, no.
So go get a rock and stone me.
Have mercy on me. It's the end, don't you see?
Kill me, oh kill me now.

From the song of the same name, Kill Me Now, you're not likely to run across that extreme a sentiment again any time soon. The Sisters, though, also have a skill for turning what might have been a commonplace stumble in the game of love into a very wistful lament and plea, as in Can't We Please, the vocals being the key to the transformation, imbuing the words beyond themselves. Ciphers for the tone of the release abound on the elegant packaging. The photo of the group has, from left to right, one of them looking pissed and vengeful, another simmering and anticipatory, and the third wall-eyed, like she'd just emerged from the House of Usher, dazed. Above them hangs a blood-dripping dagger, breaking hearts to both sides, and an Alicey "Drink Me" bottle below. In a replica-LP format, the CD is a pleasure just to hold, the interior photo reminiscent of the cool gatefold shots of olde. All in all, this is a superb release that will appeal highly to Gothites, progheads, folkers, and lovers of excellent vocal work. The exceptional quality of the Chapin Sisters' singing is strongly reminiscent of the 60s, when Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, and Joan Baez dominated the field by virtue of their mesmerizing voices, but those historic divas never waxed quite so constantly sad and depressed as these girls, and I never wished for that quite so strongly then as I do here.

Track List:

  • Let Me Go
  • Hey
  • Kill Me Now
  • Drop Me
  • Wash Away
  • Can't We Please
  • Shady River
  • Dont Love You
  • Girlfriend
  • Bird Song
  • I Hate the Moon

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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