The country singer-songwriter returns with an album of new and old material, all lifted by the sparse and inviting production
Despite the fact that she’s now onto her 13th studio album, some will always consider Beth Nielsen Chapman as a songwriter behind hits for artists like Faith Hill. If 1997’s Sand And Water didn’t convince you that she is a worthy artist in her own right then it’s a battle that will never be won. Those with a little more sense will welcome the release of Hearts Of Glass, an album of new and reworked songs all either written or co-written by Chapman.
From the very start there’s clarity about both the production and her voice which pushes the vocals to the front. Come To Me is an enticing opening, its jigging rhythm makes Chapman’s beckoning even more appealing. The narrative on new tracks like Epitaph For Love and You’re Still My Valentine can’t be escaped. The lyrics of both will strike a chord with those who know of the loss she has experienced in her personal life.
Of the old material, Sam Ashworth’s minimalistic production helps to left them out of their previous surroundings. Songs like Rage On Rage and Life Holds On benefit from this approach, revealing the truth and stories within the words. It’s an approach that worked for Lori McKenna on her fantastic 2016 album The Bird And The Rifle and though Chapman’s creations aren’t quite up to that standard, they still resonate. In this way Hearts Of Glass is another example of both Chapman’s songwriting ability and her appeal as an artist.
Verdict: Old and new find clarity together