PARADISE OF BACHELOR
English folk singer/songwriter and guitarist Michael Chapman was an old man in 1970 – if we listened to the soul behind some of those lyrics. Now, nearing 80, it’s as if he’s caught up with the sentiment he’s been layering through his sporadic album releases; currently on a “comeback” two-album hot-streak thanks to connecting with Steve Gunn as producer, a sort of spiritual heir to Chapman’s musical world.
In and around his own prolific recording and regular touring career Gunn kneels at the altar when producing Chapman.
Here there’s quite a dream-team to make these handful of brand-new songs and re-settings of lesser-known Chapman tunes happen. Alongside Gunn and the gnarled-but-lovely voice of Michael Chapman there’s pedal-steel maestro BJ Cole (his back on new Chapman instrumental, Eleuthera is subtly masterful) and cellist Sarah Smout (her gorgeous tone owns the outro of Hell To Pay, she waits her time to delicately state a magnificent case).
There’s something of the sentiment, if not the feel, of Bill Fay’s last two “comeback” albums – particularly those somber but stoic moods.
Hearing the slightly grizzled voice chisel its way into the lyrics of Youth Is Wasted On The Young might be a price-of-admission moment alone. But across 11 well-chosen pieces, blending instrumentals with lyrics, new songs with re-buffed oldies, True North is a late-career masterclass.
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