Order Michael Chapman’s 50 (Out today!):
If you need a distraction from the eldritch horrors of Inauguration Day, take a lesson from the Fully Qualified Survivor. Get thee to your local record store to grip what is shaping up to be one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2017. Or, as Laura Snapes (Pitchfork, NPR, Guardian) recently recommended: “If you’re looking for a peaceful record for this torrid week, 50 is it.”
Today sees the release of iconic British guitar sage and songwriter Michael Chapman’s 50, produced by Steve Gunn, featuring Nathan Bowles, James Elkington, Jason Meagher, Jimy SeiTang, and the legendary Bridget St John, and described (aptly, given the season) by Pitchfork as “a startlingly current and nearly apocalyptic vision of America … an album full of brimstone and brine, perhaps more perfect for this moment in history than we’d like to admit.”
Among the torrents of press for Chapman is a very special, epic 7pp. feature on Michael in the March issue of Uncut, which surveys his storied career, including episodes involving David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Nick Drake, Elton John, John Martyn, Cannonball Adderley, Steve Gunn, and more. Pick up a copy to read the entire piece, and for a covermount CD that includes album track “Memphis in Winter” (not to mention a Mind Over Mirrors song as well); it’s well worth your time.
4/5 stars. 50 focuses on songs, with the warm drizzle of Chapman’s gnarled Yorkshire burr lending a bluff character to tableaux.
4/5 stars. Chapman has taken advantage of his status as the elder statesman of experimental blues on this haunting album. For the most part there’s a cloud of darkness engulfing 50… it gives this late-career triumph mystery and weight.
– The Times
4/4 stars; Stand Out Album. The radical fretwork and deadpan unflinching songs put a poetic cap on his mighty legacy. Transcendent and emotive shredding… universal themes of survival, mortality, and redemption. Certainly something to celebrate.
– Daily Mirror
And Michael is the cover star of Italian magazine Buscadero!
Here’s also an excellent review from the The Arts Desk: “Masterful songwriting from the venerable British singer-songwriter. The Leeds-born Chapman’s voice has an alluring Dennis Hopper-esque weariness.”
MORE ACCLAIM FOR 50
4/5 stars (Album of the Month, Feb. 2017). 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
“[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
8/10 (Lead Review). 50 is a finely tuned piece that surveys the looming thunderclouds of mortality and the biblical gloom of the times, and —quietly, unshowily—transcends both… the downhill trudge of declining years reimagined as a stately victory parade. Vindication here we come. – Uncut
Even as it draws on new and old songs, 50 presents a startlingly current and nearly apocalyptic vision of America; it’s an album full of brimstone and brine, perhaps more perfect for this moment in history than we’d like to admit. – Pitchfork
4 stars. The 75-year old’s voice can render homespun parables as biblical portents, in much the same way that Rick Rubin reinvented Johnny Cash as Nostradamus. – Record Collector
Vital new versions of older tunes as well as some striking new songs, with the accompaniment of a new generation of Chapman acolytes. Five decades down the road, Jansch, Martyn, and Drake have all left us, but at 75, Chapman remains a force to be reckoned with. – Bandcamp Daily
Age has proved meaningless in the altogether radical output of Chapman’s career. Routinely unpredictable… renewed, further proving the transcendental power of his music. – Aquarium Drunkard
A brilliant collaborator. “Falling from Grace” floats out on a gorgeous cloud of fingerpicking and lap steel… “The Prospector” gets a kind of Crazy Horse treatment from Gunn and his group, Chapman’s verses playing call and response with an equally long, gnarled Zuma-like lead, round and round for seven minutes that could be 17. – The Wire
A meditation on the perseverance of the artistic spirit and the power of collaboration. – Noisey
This album’s guitar tapestries are mesmerizing, as are the arrangements overall, which is to be expected with this cast of musicians. But what really stands out are Chapman’s finely crafted songs; each one feels like a little universe with many stories waiting on the periphery. – Stereogum
MICHAEL CHAPMAN ON TOUR
You can peruse all PoB-related tour dates here.
Finally, if you’re in Washington, D.C. today for the ersatz presidential pomp, rank and rancorous politics, and righteous protests and marches, please consider attending this special concert in support of Planned Parenthood.