Mary Chapin Carpenter

Mary Chapin Carpenter: Lighthouse, Poole

Thirty years after she first made waves as a singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter has mellowed and matured. Her writing and performances were always impressive. They are now, at least judging by last night’s Lighthouse show, absolute class.

With a stripped-back mainly acoustic  band comprising just  guitar, piano and drums, she delivered an astounding set. Favourites from her back catalogue like Stones in the Road, Shut Up and Kiss Me, I Take My Chances, stood perfectly alongside some outstanding numbers from her latest album The Things That We Are Made Of.   

The high-point for me was Oh Rosetta, a song that found life after its author took a walk in the woods near her home in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia and imagined a conversation with the Godmother of rock ’n’ roll, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. As you can tell it came with its own wonderful anecdote. 

Still in shock after the result of the American Presidential Election,  Carpenter was in talkative mood and offering us all: “Songs of hope and resilience to act as a counterweight to the freak-show that's going on back home.”

We felt her pain but we also happily lapped up the brilliant songs of this five-time Grammy winner. Beautifully crafted and superbly performed, they tell stories of love and loss, of troubled times and days of doubt and defiance. 

Of course the one song that Carpenter herself described as “perfect” was the only one written by someone else - an achingly beautiful cover of Lucinda Williams’ Passionate Kisses. 

A wonderful evening.

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2017