“[Chapman’s] appealingly leathery, lived-in voice takes a backward glance at a long line of memories … brilliantly and succinctly capturing [his] blend of world-weary toughness and emotional vulnerability.” – NPR Music
“Alongside the album’s end-of-days feel there is also a valedictory mood, the sense that, as with Blackstar and You Want it Darker, here is a man closer to the end than the beginning, haunted by memories and auguries, and communicating something of their uncanny twilight power.” – MOJO (Album of the Month, 4/5 stars)
“A world-class songwriter. Terrifically unpredictable … beyond any genre tag.” – Pitchfork
“A meditation on the perseverance of the artistic spirit and the power of collaboration.” – Noisey
Preorder Michael Chapman’s 50 (Jan. 20, 2017 release date):
Michael Chapman has premiered his latest single “Memphis in Winter” via Noisey, who describe the track as having “an untethered bite, with Chapman’s old, weathered voice rising above Gunn and his band’s ramshackle arrangements.” Taken from his anticipated album 50, out January 20th, the hellish travelogue approaches a pure distillation of the perfect Chapman song, with its dark lyrics and mesmerizing, elastic instrumental passages. (We’re snowed in here in North Carolina, so it feels particularly apropos to the season.)
‘’I wrote ‘Memphis in Winter’ after an event in the winter of ’99. I was driving across Arkansas trying to stay ahead of a blizzard and ended up pulling into a motel in downtown Memphis. That’s when it really hit, forcing the homeless, the hobos, and the dispossessed into town in a desperate attempt to keep warm. They were failing badly, dying in shop doorways, and no one seemed to care. Lots of crazy people with guns and not a great place to be at that moment in time. We holed up until the storm passed – and moved on.”
– Michael Chapman
50 is Chapman’s first album in years with a full band, assembled around the versatile core group of friend and producer Steve Gunn (who also contributes guitar, drums, and vocals); Nathan Bowles (drums, banjo, keys, vocals; Pelt, Black Twig Pickers); James Elkington (guitar, piano; Jeff Tweedy, Richard Thompson), and Jimy SeiTang (bass, synthesizers, vocals; Rhyton, Stygian Stride). Michael’s dear friend and fellow UK songwriting luminary Bridget St John furnished her gorgeous, shivering vocals, a dramatic counterpoint to Chapman’s road-worn gruffness. Gunn’s touring bassist and longtime engineer Jason Meagher (No-Neck Blues Band) recorded and mixed at his Black Dirt Studio in Westtown, New York. The inherently collaborative nature of 50 shows in its ambition and execution; never has Michael ceded such generous control to other musicians, and he sounds both invigorated and liberated as a result.
With 50, Chapman faces mortality with guitar in hand, and endures. It’s the unguarded sound of Orpheus descending, and returning to tell his story.
Michael Chapman’s 50 is due out January 20th. The deluxe LP package includes tip-on jacket, printed inner sleeve, lyrics, and download card with two bonus tracks; the CD features a gatefold jacket, lyrics, and the two non-LP bonus tracks.
Michael Chapman played a live session on Marc Riley’s show on BBC 6 Radio Music yesterday, Jan. 9, 2017, performing several songs and chatting about 50; recording with Steve Gunn, Nathan Bowles, James Elkington, Jason Meagher, and Jimy SeiTang (“a stick insect who plays the bass!”); his first American tour disaster in 1971; and … run-ins with Jimi Hendrix, among other things.