Beth Nielsen Chapman "Uncovered" Album Review

Beth Nielsen Chapmam
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Over the years, Beth Nielsen Chapman had straddled astride two parallel careers.  On one hand, she was the songwriter par excellence.  Ever since the 80s, she has pecked quite a collection of hits on country music's power lines.  Some of these include "Five Minutes" (Lorrie Morgan), "Strong Enough to Bend" (Tanya Tucker), "Down on My Knees" (Trisha Yearwood), and "This Kiss" (Faith Hill). Despite her success with country music, Chapman the singer has always stayed clear of the sawdust, jukeboxes and the fiddles.  Rather, for her own solo records, she has often indulged herself in a polished pop AC sound.  Though her own songs were not as commercially accessible, her Warner Brothers debut and the follow-up "You Hold the Key" received heaps of critical acclaims.  And even Elton John himself was so warmed to Chapman's "Sand and Water" that the "Your Song" singer made it a staple in his concerts.  The good news is that for the first time in Chapman's lengthy career, the two tangents meet.  "Uncovered" finds Chapman singing some of her biggest hits (many of which had held residence on the penthouse of the country chart) she has had written for others.

While there is a temptation for many singer-songwriters to literally suck the life out of the hits they have written for others turning them into corpse-like skeletons of the originals, Chapman avoids such a pitfall.  "Here We Are," a no. 2 hit for Alabama, finds Chapman singing with the same explosive fervor as the original on this charge to look forward into the future with hope.  Though Chapman's version is not as bass heavy as that of Alabama's, she brings in co-writer Vince Gill to sing alongside her making this track hard to resist.  Faith Hill's immortal "This Kiss" must have been Chapman's most successful single with that across-the-board pop, AC and country successes.  Keeping quite abreast to Hill's version, Chapman has re-captured the dizziness of the love's first flushes. Taking it a tad faster is Chapman's take of Willie Nelson's "Nothing I Can Do About It Now."  Everything works so perfectly here:  the twangy guitar, the Tex Mex accordion dusting and Chapman's gorgeous alto.

This album also showcases why Chapman has had so much success as a songwriter.  Despite being a melodrama about a woman having her bags pack, waiting for her taxi and giving her cad five minutes to stop her from leaving, Lorrie Morgan's No. 1 "Five Minutes" is so ultra catchy that you forget it's a breakup song.  On the other side of tackling love's ordeals is Tanya Tucker's back to country no.1 smash "Strong Enough to Bend."  Chapman's ability to paint with her musical pen about a love can be like a bending branch that never breaks despite the wind is just breathtaking.  She is easily music's equivalent of Rembrandt.  Bringing in the gravel-voiced Kim Carnes to sing backing on "Simple Things" adds grit to what is Chapman's most romantic AC crossover hit for Rebecca Lynn Howard and Jim Brickman.  Perhaps the only dent on this record is Chapman's take of the pretty non-descript "One in a Million."  Though the song was originally recorded by the late Mindy McCready, it was not even a remote hit (peaking only at no. 57 on Billboard's country chart).  Perhaps the reason for inclusion was purely out of a tribute to McCready.  

On the more inspirational front, Don Williams' "Maybe that's All It Takes" finds Chapman waxing wisdom on what makes relationships work.  Donning on Williams' laidback almost acoustic demeanor, on this touching ballad Chapman empties her heart showing us that the secret to a relationship quipped with lots of "slamming doors" is simply to forgive and to let go of past mistakes.  "Pray" finds Amy Grant, Ruth Trimble and Elidh Patterson singing along on this powerful Celtic-tilted ode that could work wonders for Chapman on Christian radio. Though many of these songs were adopted as hits for many other artists, they were still Chapman's own babies.  So, it's great that she's finally able to get a chance to welcome them home again and making them her very own for the first time in years.

Tags : Beth Nielsen Chapman Amy Grant Uncovered Country music Willie Nelson Tanya Tucker

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