The Calling

Mary Chapin Carpenter

Zoe, 2007

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


One of the best ways to make good folk/country music is to wear your heart on your sleeve; to let your feelings, passions and beliefs hang right out there where everyone can see them. Mary Chapin Carpenter has been doing that for years; from “Quittin’ Time” to “This Shirt” (one of the greatest songs of all time, bar none) to “Down At The Twist And Shout,” you always knew what she was feeling. But let me tell you, O Ye DV Faithful, she’s never been as naked as this.

The Calling, Carpenter’s new CD, is magnificent, wonderful, passionate, enlightening -- but most of all it’s naked, scarily so. The anger, the sorrow, the love, the joy is right there on the surface, woven in with Carpenter’s rich contralto voice, and there are moments where it left me stunned at the sheer power of it.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

First off: Carpenter is pissed off. She is tired of the jingoistic crap that seven years of Dubya has provided the United States, and she’s willing to say it in no uncertain terms. “On With The Song,” her tribute to the Dixie Chicks in light of their courageous stance against the war in Iraq and George W. Bush, is scathing, blunt and rhetorically brilliant. In four minutes, she takes on rednecks, evangelicals, cowardly country music radio programmers, Dubya, Cheney and anyone else who called for Natalie Maines’ head after she spoke her mind.

Carpenter is mourning, as well. “Houston” captures the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina -- both the destruction and the failure of the government’s response -- better than any talking head could do. From the opening lines she had me: “Mama’s got her babies / Sitting in a grocery cart”…strong stuff. “Closer and Closer Apart” is a microcosm of breakup and loss, and “Leaving Song” is an incredible snapshot of the moment of…well…leaving.

Yet, in the end, Carpenter has hope. “The Calling,” “We’re All Right,” “On And On It Goes,” “Here I Am” -- there is still brightness in Carpenter’s world, and she thinks it’s worth celebrating. So do I. When she hits her crescendo on “Why Shouldn’t We,” her voice wrapping around the words “We believe in things we’re told we cannot change, why shouldn’t we? We had heroes once, and we will again, why shouldn’t we?,” there is power in her music; power and majesty and healing, something that you don’t hear very often -- something we could use more of.

The Calling may be Carpenter’s greatest CD. It’s certainly one of the greatest CDs I’ve heard this year, and worth your hard-earned cash.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2007 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Zoe, and is used for informational purposes only.