PURCHASE MICHAEL CHAPMAN’S 50:
“A world-class songwriter. Terrifically unpredictable … beyond any genre tag.” – Pitchfork
“Acute emotional reporting in a gruff seaman-poet’s voice, supported by the quiet ingenious strength of his acoustic-guitar motifs.” – Rolling Stone
“A master … a distinctive talent who stands comparisons to John Fahey.” – Uncut
Age has proved meaningless in the altogether radical output of Chapman’s career. On his first self-professed ‘American Record’ to date, Chapman is routinely unpredictable, combining re-imaginations of deep cuts from albums past alongside new compositions. ‘Sometimes You Just Drive’ finds Chapman boldly confronting the End of Days … [sounding] renewed, further proving the transcendental power of his music.
– Aquarium Drunkard
The song is taken from his anticipated album 50, out January 20th, on which 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). Those qualities are very much in evidence on “Sometimes You Just Drive,” one of three new compositions on the record. The dark, angular song, which prominently features the smoldering guitar work of Steve Gunn and the backing vocals of Bridget St John, was inspired by events very close to home.
‘Sometimes You Just Drive’ came to me one day when I was driving into our local town, Carlisle. We passed streets of houses with their doors and windows wide open trying to dry them out after being flooded. We’d had horrendous storms from the beginning of December 2015, and Carlisle, which lies on a flood plain, flooded three times in ten days. The waters would subside, and people would start trying to clear up, and then the storms came back again. And this after the County Council had spent millions on a new flood defense system after the last floods ten years ago. ‘The waters still rising after the storm, sun don’t shine to keep us warm.’
– 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 upstream to tell his story. 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 ON TOUR
Nov. 16: Faversham Folk Club – Faversham, UK
Nov. 17: Prince Albert – Brighton, UK
Nov. 18: Hinckley ACT – Hinckley, UK
Nov. 19: High & Lonesome Festival 2016 – Leeds, UK
Nov. 20: Music Room, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall – Liverpool, UK
Nov. 26: Antigel Festival 2016 – Geneva, Switzerland
You can peruse all PoB-related tour dates here.
LISTEN TO PREVIOUS SINGLE “THAT TIME OF NIGHT”: