released Apr 27th, 2010

from the album - I Have A Need For Solitude

bio from all music

Mary Chapin Carpenter was part of a small movement of folk-influenced country singer/songwriters of the late '80s. Although many of these performers never achieved commercial success, Carpenter was able to channel her anti-Nashville approach into chart success and industry awards by the early '90s.

Carpenter was born and raised in Princeton, NJ, the daughter of a Life magazine executive; she spent two years of her childhood in Japan, where her father was launching the Asian edition of Life. Her mother had begun to play guitar during the folk explosion of the early '60s, and she gave her daughter a guitar when Mary became interested in music as a child. Carpenter played music during her high-school years, but she didn't actively pursue it as a career. In 1974 her family moved to Washington, D.C., where she became involved in the city's folk music scene. After graduating from high school in the mid-'70s, she spent a year traveling Europe; when she was finished, she enrolled at Brown University, where she was an American civilization major.

Following her college graduation, she became deeply involved in the Washington-area folk scene, performing a mixture of originals, contemporary singer/songwriter material, and pop covers. Carpenter met guitarist John Jennings during the early '80s and the pair began performing together. They eventually made a demo tape of their songs, which they sold at their concerts. The tape wound up at Columbia Records, and the label offered Carpenter an audition. By early 1987, Columbia had signed her as a recording artist, and her first album, Hometown Girl, was released that year.

Hometown Girl and its follow-up, State of the Heart (1989), earned her a dedicated cult following, as well as two Top Ten singles, "Never Had It So Good" and "Quittin' Time." Country radio was hesitant to play her soft, folky, feminist material, but she received good reviews and airplay on more progressive country stations, as well as college radio. Shooting Straight in the Dark, released in 1990, managed to break down a lot of the barriers that stood in her way. "Down at the Twist and Shout" became a number two single and the album sold well, setting the stage for her breakthrough album, 1992's Come on Come On.

Come on Come On signaled a slight change in direction for Carpenter although there were still folk songs, she felt freer to loosen up on honky tonk and country-rock songs, which resulted in several hit singles. Two of the singles from the album "I Feel Lucky" and "Passionate Kisses" hit number four, and "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" became her first number one. Come on Come On would eventually sell over two million copies. Her fifth album, Stones in the Road, released in 1994, concentrated on the folkier material, but it was still a major success, selling over a million copies within its first six months of release. Place in the World was released in October 1996, and Time* Sex* Love* followed in spring 2001. Carpenter's tenth album, 2004's Between Here and Gone, was produced with pianist Matt Rollings. The Calling was issued in 2007 by Zo Records. Zo also released a holiday album from Carpenter, Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas, in the fall of 2008. A new studio album, The Age of Miracles, appeared early in 2010.

album review from all music

While Mary Chapin Carpenter enjoyed an impressive run of hits on the country charts during the 1990s, it was always clear that she was a folk-influenced singer/songwriter who found a way to coexist with Nashville rather than an artist whose first goal was landing singles on country radio. Now that Carpenter has left the major labels, she seems more than willing to let the country side of her musical personality fade, and her 11th studio album, 2010's The Age of Miracles, is a literate and thoughtful set of songs that speak to the concerns of the heart and soul with equal portions of compassion and intelligence. The audience that made "Down at the Twist and Shout" and "Shut Up and Kiss Me" chart favorites aren't likely to embrace The Age of Miracles, but as a personal work it's as affecting as anything she's ever cut and one of her most lyrically ambitious sets to date. While "I Put My Ring Back On" is an honest and moving testimony of the ways love can ebb and flow, "I Have a Need for Solitude" is just as compelling in its demand for love on one's own terms, and both have more to say about how relationships work in the real word than you're likely to hear on any other album from 2010. "Mrs. Hemingway" is a lovely, nuanced bit of storytelling, while "4 June, 1989," told from the perspective of a young Chinese soldier ordered to clear the protesters from Tiananmen Square, puts a fresh and deeply human twist on a story we imagine we already know. Carpenter produced the album in collaboration with Matt Rollings, and the album's approach is subtle, with the musicians showing respect for the dynamics of the arrangements and supporting Carpenter's gentle but assured vocals rather than drowning them out. Mary Chapin Carpenter doesn't sound especially concerned with how much product she'll move on The Age of Miracles; instead, she's made an album that speaks with honesty and clarity about the mysteries of love and fate, and she communicates well enough that it's hard to imagine anyone who has ever thought about the ways life can turn on a dime not being moved by the beauty of this music.

Track Listing

1 We Traveled So Far Carpenter 4:27
2 Zephyr Carpenter 3:34
3 I Put My Ring Back On Carpenter 2:45
4 Holding Up the Sky Carpenter 4:48
5 4 June 1989 Carpenter 4:47
6 I Was a Bird Carpenter 3:26
7 Mrs. Hemingway Carpenter 5:59
8 I Have a Need For Solitude Carpenter 3:43
9 What You Look For Carpenter 4:08
10 Iceland Carpenter 4:44
11 The Age of Miracles Carpenter 4:32
12 The Way I Feel Carpenter 3:19