Sunday, January 12, 2014

Beth NIELSEN CHAPMAN: "Uncovered"

Rating: RRr
Label: proper Records 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Have you been listening to any Beth Nielsen Chapman record as of lately? No? It's about darn time you did since she's not just a top notch songsmith for other artists. "Uncovered", however, takes you on a up-to-date trip of her songwriting skill and songs she's written but never recorded that have already been hits or covers by other artists. Lo and behold, 7 out of 12 tracks on the album topped the US charts at #1 and the rest were pretty much all Top 10 hits anyhow.

I believe pop fans are mostly familiar with her songs like 'This Kiss' (Faith Hill). The Nashville believers can look forward to #1 hits such as 'Here We Are' (Alabama), 'Strong Enough To Bend' (Tanya Tucker), 'Nothin I Can Do About It Now' (Willie Nelson), 'Five Minutes' (Lorrie Morgan), etc. Now don't go thinking it's merely Beth, since the album features a veritable who's who of guest musicians, (Kim Carnes, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Duane Eddy, Gretchen Peters, etc.), impressive production
and an encompassing Nashville feel that all makes it all very twangy and down to earth or if you prefer dust?

It's perhaps a tad too country for my personal taste and the charm of Nashville may not work on the traditional pop, rock fan. Recorded in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and her own "Tree House" studio in Nashville, BNC's new release bursts open with a crystalline piano, which gives way into "Simple Things", a song about the stuff that really matters in life, with backing vocals by Kim Carnes (She's Got Betty Davis Eyes). Additional recording was done at Squiggle Studios in Harlech, Wales, legendary bassist and longtime sidekick, former Fairport Convention member Maartin Allcock plays on several tracks. The charming Amy Grant along with Ruth Trimble & Eilidh Patterson sing on "Pray" written with, and featuring guitarist Muriel Andersen.

You gotta' love the bluesy, groovy, "Meet Me Halfway", written by Beth and Bonnie Raitt for the latters "Fundamental" release. "Maybe That's All It Takes" and "Five Minutes" are stunningly beautiful songs and the boppy, grand piano tune, "Almost Home", features the background vocals of "Wine Women & Song" artists Gretchen Peters (hint: she's very popular among the hillbillies of America). Ehem. Excellent? I'm positively surprised by the fine quality of Beth's vocal performances and slightly negative about the exclusive U.S. sound of the album. You simply need to be 'Nashville' to fully appreciate this effort. Release date: 20th January.

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