Yorkshire folk guitarist Michael Chapman is one of those musicians who is just simply extremely good at his job: his finger-picking style is endlessly engaging. New album 50, commemorating five decades of career, is his ‘American record’, on which he is joined by US allies like Steve Gunn and Jason Meagher (No-Neck Blues Band). Old songs and new songs, played American style. Released by Paradise Of Bachelors.
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- POB029LP / Deluxe LP on Paradise of Bachelors in tip-on sleeve, with printed inner sleeve. Includes download card with two bonus tracks
- Includes download code
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7/10 Clinton Staff review, 17 January 2017
Unlike Rick Astley's latest album the titular '50' doesn't refer to ace guitarist Michael Chapman's 50 years on earth. No he's a lot older than that, it refers to how many years he's been in the wonderful world of show business. He's had a funny career which has taken in a multitude of styles including singer songwriter, brilliant John Fahey- esque instrumental work and latterly noise rock and abstraction alongside such fans as Thurston Moore.
Here he's in straightforward singer-songwriter mode which though not my favourite Chapman guise, has brought him previous success with albums like 'Fully Qualified Survivor'. In fact it's often difficult to put all the pieces together so 'normal' is a lot of his work. This is a collection of bluesy, drifty songs that are always enlivened by Chapman's wonderful guitar tones which blend perfectly with those of Steve Gunn who produces and adds distinctive guitar textures. Chapman's voice is nothing to write home about - a kind of husky Chris Rea-ish drawl and it sometimes seems to hold back the stylish instrumentation but despite his vocal limitations there are lots of really affecting moments here. 'The Mallard' in particular is a lovely track, those stunning guitar lines create a wonderful glistening atmosphere that could only come from a man who grew up in the depths of West Yorkshire.
'Memphis in Winter' again is worth the admission price for it's fantastic guitar duelling reminiscent of an lot of the pieces on his essential 'Trainsongs' collection and there are loads of companion pieces throughout the album. He has a way with a guitar that just can't be equalled in my book but I'm finding some of the songs a bit trad for my liking. They are lovely and lovingly constructed no doubt and have the sort of melancholic feel of the late work of Johnny Cash. I hope Chapman has many years left to keep doing his thing whatever it may be.
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- 50 by Michael Chapman
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