The Chapmans

Grown Up (A Revisionist History)

by David Maine

19 June 2010

 

Faster, Louder, Better

cover art

The Chapmans

Grown Up (A Revisionist History)

(Compass)
US: 9 Feb 2010
UK: 19 Apr 2010

20-year bluegrass stalwarts the Chapmans return with a retrospective, but rather than cobble together a “greatest hits” collection, the songs have been re-recorded, lending a freshness and immediacy to what could have been a stodgy exercise. Bluegrass is, perhaps, the most staid genre of music in the world, but the Chapmans breathe new life into it here, from the jaunty opening strains of “Why Did You Lie” and “She’s Never Coming Back” to the slower-paced “Jenny Dear” and “Small Exception of Me”. John Chapman’s vocals are classically nasal, with that high lonesome sound ringing out over the band’s impeccable instrumental work; expect crystalline banjo and mandolin lines, fluid guitar work, soulful fiddle and rolling bass. Instrumental “El Cumbanchero” manages to marry a bit of mariachi flavor—hey, who said bluegrass was staid?—with breakneck picking. At the other extreme, a cappella “Bring It on Home to Me” does away with instrumentation entirely and showcases the group’s vocal chops. This record is a treat for both hardcore genre fans, and those who enjoy the music now and then but don’t make a point of keeping up with the scene. All together now: “I’m rollin’ away on a big sternwheeler / Down the Mississippi to the sea…”

Grown Up (A Revisionist History)

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