It's been five long years since Jen Chapin, daughter of the esteemed late Harry, in collaboration with the Rosetta Trio, released Light of Mine (here). In her return to FAME pages, she's again teamed with the Trio…except they're not going by that sobriquet…composed of husband-bassist Stephen Crump and compeers, and, as before, the gents fit her music like rays of light filtering through time-worn windows in the afternoon of a hazy, lazy, reflective day. The instrumentalists now, however, are joined by a number of sessioneers fitting seamlessly into the milieu, integrating almost unnoticeably except…in this music, it's the little things that are profound, so even that is part of the plan.
Existential ambiguities are Chapin's specialty and can readily be found in cuts like Don't Talk and Go Away, especially Go Away, dealing honestly with the baffling and maddening perplexities of love and familiarity…over-familiarity, that is, and the hermetic sanctity of an individual caught in the push/pull double bind of an intimacy that could just as much come to chafe and diminish the self as to heal and expand it. The opening track, It's All Right is very much a modern version of what Cat Stevens was doing at his peak (Tea for the Tillerman), and Insatiable finds Chapin closely following the sort of thing Grace Slick was doing at Jefferson Airplane's zenith (Crown of Creation).
Regardless, Reckoning presents the singer at her most mature and most incisive artistically, kindred to Janis Ian's At Seventeen (esp. in Reckoning), as well as Joni Mitchell's first flowering, but with some Meryn Cadell, Nick Drake (Let It Show, a beautiful pastorale), Kate Bush, and others thrown in. There's no sense of the hurried, everything's more a languorous philosophical outpost of oncoming ennui, a muted klaxon of what to expect if one is not careful…or even if one is. Don't Talk is ripe with vocal subtleties and inflections within a reggae'ed stutter step, but that's true of much of the rest of the CD as well. Every song here is hers and, man, those of you who Kickstartered her on Reckoning backed a winner. Somewhere, hell I don't know where—heaven, nirvana, a beat cafe in purgatory, his next lifetime—father Harry has gotta be beaming with pride.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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