First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2006, Volume 13, #10
Written by Kirk deCordova
The name Chapin may seem familiar, but donít expect a rehashing of Harry in daughter Jenís latest effort Ready. After all, Jen Chapin is an artist all to herself. While her father was always on the go, playing up to 290 shows a year, Jen has a more relaxed view of life that is reflected abundantly in her music. With a sound that is exceedingly difficult to categorize, Ready excites the listener with a stylistic range that crosses folk, soul, jazz, and light funk with R&B and blues. Itís a mixture that works quite well with her versatile and refreshing voice. She has been compared to the likes of Norah Jones, Joni Mitchell, and even Tori Amos, but these kinships fail to describe her as an artist. Ready also is graced with a simple yet lovely production, which gives the recording the ambience of a live, acoustic show. Throughout the disc, piano and guitar take center stage, though they also are joined by such instruments as violin, cello, clarinet, acoustic bass, and even ukulele.
Because Ready is filled with a host of pleasant songs, all of which were penned by Chapin, it is difficult to choose a few that rise above the rest. With its haunting melody, delicate string arrangement, steady beat, and thoughtful lyrics, Scream Laugh Cry certainly is one track that soars. Another tune of note is the touching Goodbye, which has the feel of a lush, Irish ballad that pits hypnotic guitar strumming against Jenís ethereal voice. Elsewhere, Skin is quiet and dreamy as soft piano and tasteful strings set the stage for a reflective and relaxing vocal as well as some very interesting lyrics, while the jazzy, NYC boasts an energetic trio of guitar, jumping acoustic bass, and some incredible drumming, though itís the vocals that really bring it to life. For music fans who enjoy diverse acoustic sounds, strong vocals, and poignant lyrics, Jen Chapinís Ready is real treasure.
Ready is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box