SONGS I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT
Tall Girl Records
A Deeply Personal Soundtrack To a Life Well Lived, Regrets And All.
This is Ms Chapman’s 14th album release and she’s also a famed actress (I have watched Mississippi Grind btw) but …… I had not heard of her prior to receiving this disc last month.
Now; without this being a #spoiler after listening to this; her intimate re-invention of some of her favourite songs in her record collection I am now an unmitigated FANBOY …… swoon …… and have already delved into her back catalogue.
Cover Albums often split fans opinions, as they can regularly be used as ‘contractual obligation releases’; but when done well (Harry Nilsson, Brian Ferry, Bowie even) they can be an insight into what makes the artist tick …… this is one such case.
Although somewhat brave, it’s no surprise at all that Marshall starts with Leonard Cohen; and even then Tower of Song would be in my Top 3 guesses; but when I heard her winsome and world weary interpretation I was left astounded; and I still am today. I’ve only heard one better version of a Cohen song; and that’s Joe Cocker delving deep when he sings Bird on a Wire; and this is right up there with Joe and Leonard himself.
Just as you try to catch your breath, the staggering Turn The Page presses down even firmer on your already tight chest.
What a beautiful song; and one I certainly didn’t recognise ….. but hey! I already have the original …… only Bob Seger from BACK IN ’72, but also the Greatest Hits that I still have on LP and CD.
Marshall Chapman not just has fantastic taste in music; but like myself (it’s always about ME, ME, ME!) she has eclectic taste too, which I admire.
For the uninitiated Marshall has a voice in the mode of Lucinda and Bonnie; so when you hear her ‘performing’ Don’t Be Cruel, with it’s tsch, tsch drum beat, honey dripping harmonies and Honky-Tonky piano and guitar; you totally forget the famous version ….. trust me here.
I’d not heard it before, but I love the way Marshall inhabit the character driven narrative in Bobby Charles’ Tennessee Blues; then again the Classic After Midnight, which becomes rawer and rougher ’round the edges than either JJ Cale or Clapton’s versions.
While instantly recognisable, Cash’s I Still Miss Someone becomes a dark, and almost Gothic Southern Opus here when sung from the female perspective, which makes it quite chilling, especially when the softly weeping organ seeps into the mix.
When I first received the album and scanned the track listing I was genuinely surprised and perhaps even a tad disappointed to see that it all ended with that hoary old Folk Song, He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands; and the first twice I played it my pre-conceptions were well and truly lived down to; then …….. HALLELUJAH Brothers and Sisters, the scales were lifted from my eyes on a car journey to work in the bright sunshine! There’s a twist in the tale that caught me totally unawares and I sure as Hell ain’t gonna spoil it for ya ……….. trust me sugar; this will not just make you smile, but cry and punch the air with a clenched fist as you howl along with the chorus!!!
That leaves two more songs to tell you about and at one time or another both have not just been favourites of mine for aeons but in their own little way, influenced areas of my musical taste that live with me today.
So it’s a tie for RMHQ Favourite Song status between the Jazz standard, I Fall In Love Too Easily and the Goffin and King Classic; Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.
Like myself, Marshall discovered I Fall In Love Too Easily via the God Like Genius of Chet Baker; but her rich and intimately acoustic rendition is totally unlike his version; and the inclusion of a haunting Flugelhorn is as touching as it is brilliantly creative too.
It’s actually in my will that Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow will be played at my funeral; and while I will probably still go with The Shirelles single; I may be swayed to use this instead. The melody is the same; but slowed down to suit Marshall Chapman’s seasoned voice, that sounds like someone who has made mistakes in her life; but still loves her man; which is me in reverse.
I really don’t know if this is a good place to start discovering Marshall Chapman; but as a stand-alone record it’s simply outstanding and I can only thank her for recording such a personal album.
Released May 15th 2020