The Essential Mary Chapin Carpenter

The Essential Mary Chapin Carpenter

by Mary Chapin CarpenterMary Chapin Carpenter


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It's a challenge to summarize Mary Chapin Carpenter's deep catalogue on one disc, but this Essential release does a fine job of surveying the impressive range and sophistication of the singer-songwriter's music over the past decade-plus. Oddly, the disc bypasses Carpenter's debut album, Hometown Girl, and includes only one song from her stunning sophomore effort, State of the Heart -- a jangly cover of "Quittin' Time," which for emotional insight, brutal honesty, and tunefulness is of a piece with her own work anyway. Otherwise, Essential offers one formidable performance, one penetrating lyric after another, mostly dealing with the yin-yang of relationships. Highlights are many, due to Carpenter's stylistic diversity. The scabrous rocker "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" delineates a woman's spirit being snuffed out in a stifling marriage to a doltish hubby, while the steady, mid-tempo "The Hard Way" is an impassioned plea to a lover to stay connected through the tough times. Also of note is Carpenter's classic, driving take on Lucinda Williams's "Passionate Kisses," as well as saucy good-time numbers, such as "I Feel Lucky" and the Cajun-flavored workout "Down at the Twist and Shout," enlivened by the contributions of BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet. And bringing us to the present are two gems from Carpenter's most recent album, Time*Sex*Love: "The Long Way Home," a brutal screed detailing lives trapped in a limbo of predictability, and "Late for Your Life," a quiet, largely acoustic meditation on believing in chance and faith. Essential provides meaty texts and great music, though it's but a taste of this impressive artist's ongoing work.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/04/2003
Label: Sony
UPC: 0827969077221
catalogNumber: 90772
Rank: 2089


  1. Stones in the Road
  2. The Long Way Home
  3. Shut Up and Kiss Me
  4. I Take My Chances
  5. I Feel Lucky
  6. Almost Home
  7. Halley Came to Jackson
  8. I Am a Town
  9. Quittin' Time
  10. Down at the Twist and Shout
  11. He Thinks He'll Keep Her
  12. Only a Dream
  13. Late for Your Life
  14. The Hard Way
  15. Passionate Kisses
  16. 10,000 Miles

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Mary Chapin Carpenter   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Background Vocals
Michael Doucet   Fiddle,Yells
Beth Nielsen Chapman   Background Vocals
Lee Roy Parnell   Slide Guitar
Trisha Yearwood   Background Vocals
Edgar Meyer   Double Bass
Shawn Colvin   Background Vocals
Don Dixon   Bass
John Jorgenson   Guitar
Matt Rollings   Organ,Piano
Bob Sheppard   Soprano Saxophone,Soloist
Cindy Walker   Background Vocals
Duke Levine   Electric Guitar
John McCutcheon   Hammered Dulcimer
Jimmy Breaux   Accordion,Yells
Ava Aldridge   Background Vocals
Kenny Aronoff   Drums
Benmont Tench   Piano,Hammond Organ
Peter Bonta   Acoustic Guitar,Piano
J.T. Brown   Bass,Background Vocals
Pat Buchanan   Electric Guitar
Denny Dadmun-Bixby   Bass
Bob Glaub   Bass
John Jarvis   Piano
John Jennings   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Tambourine,Background Vocals,cowbell,Yells,Guitar (Baritone)
Robbie Magruder   Percussion,Drums
Dave Mattacks   Percussion,Drums
Mike McAdam   Electric Guitar
Greg Morrow   Drums
Steve Nathan   Piano,Hammond Organ
Andy Newmark   Drums
Mark O'Connor   Fiddle
Herb Pedersen   Background Vocals
Rico Petrucelli   Bass
Amy Ray   Background Vocals
Michael Rhodes   Bass
Tom Roady   Percussion
Emily Saliers   Background Vocals
Steuart Smith   Electric Guitar
Glenn Worf   Bass,Clevenger Bass
Jon Carroll   Synthesizer,Piano,Keyboards,Hammond Organ,Background Vocals
Annie Roboff   Background Vocals
Garrison Starr   Background Vocals
John Carroll   Piano
Kenneth Kugler   Conductor

Technical Credits

Beth Nielsen Chapman   Composer
Mark Isham   Arranger,Producer,Orchestration,Orchestra Production
Lucinda Williams   Composer
Mary Chapin Carpenter   Composer,Producer
Blake Chancey   Producer
John Jennings   Producer,Vocal Producer
Roger Linn   Composer
Robb Royer   Composer
Jay Orr   Liner Notes
Annie Roboff   Composer
Tracy Baskette-Fleaner   Art Direction
Don Schlitz   Composer
Andy Spooner   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Kenneth Kugler   Orchestration
William Lehner   Composer

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