Finally, a Christmas album worth listening to all year long. When the artist set out to create this 2008 recording, she took a far different approach to recording a holiday album than most artists do. Rather than simply lending her voice to time-worn standards, Mary Chapin wrote her own set of heartfelt songs which explore the many meanings and emotions that the winter season evokes in each of us.
These songs, mixed with a few hand-picked gems from other writers and rarely heard traditional tunes, are not merely holiday songs, though they are that too, spanning Thanksgiving, Solstice and Christmas - they are simultaneously great Mary Chapin Carpenter songs, both warm and intimate.
And while they artfully capture the spirit of the season, this is a rare holiday album that doesn't feel like it needs to be kept on the shelf between New Year's and Thanksgiving.
Elegant and meaningful, peaceful and beautiful ... on this exceptional collection of winter songs, Mary Chapin Carpenter's voice goes down as warmly as hot cider on a cold winter's night. Highly recommended!
Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas is a Holiday album released by American music artist Mary Chapin Carpenter. The album was released on September 30, 2008 on Zoë Records and was produced by Carpenter and John Jennings. The release was Carpenter's second album released under the Zoë record label and her first album of Holiday-themed music.
Come Darkness, Come Light peaked at #30 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, #155 on the Billboard 200, and #7 on the Billboard Top Holiday Albums chart.
Come Darkness Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas contained twelve songs of Holiday-themed songs, six of which were written or co-written by Carpenter. The six additional tracks consisted of traditional rare Holiday songs. The album features collaborations with Carpenter's producer of many of her previous albums John Jennings. Come Darkness, Come Light includes cover of songs by Robin and Linda Williams, Tommy Thompson, and composer John Rutter. The opening track "Once in Royal David's City" was originally performed during the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in Cambridge, England, which Carpenter states she listens to every Christmas. Mark Deming of Allmusic thought that the album focused more on the "thoughtful and spiritual side of the season", while Scott Sexton of About.com said that the album's arrangement evoked "a calming vibe that is perfect for any holiday event".
In an interview with Country Music Television in late 2008, Carpenter explained that she and producer John Jennings tried to create a more solemn approach to the record, without the use of symphonies or orchestras. In the interview, Carpenter commented that she wanted to keep the focus of the album "spare" and make its sound more acoustic.
"That was the whole point from the beginning -- to make a real acoustic record. Whatever instruments we thought might add a texture or color, John was able to provide himself. We brought in Jon Carroll, my longtime keyboard player. He is so gifted, and he really did the heavy lifting on the piano, but John was able to fill in where it was needed. At most, there were three people in the room, but mostly it was me and John. It's really fun to do that. You feel like you're wacky scientists, late at night in the lab, experimenting to your heart's content."
Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas mainly received positive reviews from music magazines and critics. Mark Deming of Allmusic gave the album four out of five stars, and called the record in general to be a "brave" collection of songs to choose. Deming praised producer John Jennings for creating "a record that's as thoughtful in its music as its lyrics". To conclude his review, Deming stated, "Come Darkness, Come Light is a brave and beautiful collection of songs that dares to run counter to what most folks expect from a Christmas album, and it asks some questions worth pondering about the meaning behind the annual celebration while mirroring the simple joys of a snowy night." Come Darkness, Come Light also received a review from Christmas Reviews.com which said that the album was "Folksy" and "warm". Reviewer Carol Swanson praised Carpenter's "Thanksgiving Song", which she found to covey a significant message. In conclusion, Swanson stated, "Mary Chapin Carpenter's throaty, deep vocals provide texture and comfort. Twelve Songs of Christmas delivers a dozen excellent tracks, all nicely wrapped in the soft warmth of MCC's voice. Superb!"
Come Darkness, Come Light was also reviewed by Scott Sexton of About.com, who also gave the record four out of five stars. Sexton reported that the album's tracks "stand the test of time", and although it is not a conventional Holiday album, it does offer "awesome" songs that were not often recorded by other artists. Sexton further praised the release by saying, "Christmas time is the season for giving and that is exactly what country music entertainer, Mary Chapin Carpenter is doing. Fans can hear a new collection of Christmas favorites that have been written by Mary, along with a couple of classics mixed into the album. The whole record gives off a calming vibe that is perfect for any holiday event. Mary has a voice that is great anytime of the year, but for Christmas, her voice is golden." Nick Coleman of the United Kingdom's The Independent found that Come Darkness, Come Light expressed "a feast of genteel cliché and righteous cheer." Coleman in addition praised Carpenter's voice, which he called "mumsy" and "cushioned in Grammy-grabbing micro-arrangements and pitched squarely at the non-evangelistic sensibility in its buttoned-up cardie."
* Jon Carroll – piano
* Mary Chapin Carpenter – acoustic guitar, harmony vocals, lead vocals
* John Jennings – accordion, acoustic guitar, bass, drums, electric guitar, harmony vocals, piano, percussion
* Mary Chapin Carpenter – photography
* John Jennings – engineering, mixing
* Charlie Pilzer – mastering
* Sarah Lainie Radawich – cover design
* Carla Sacks – publicity
Sales chart positions
Category:Mary Chapin Carpenter albums
Category:2008 Christmas albumsThis text has been derived from Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0
Mary Chapin Carpenter (born February 21, 1958) is an American folk and country music artist. Carpenter spent several years singing in Washington, D.C. clubs before signing in the late 1980s with Columbia Records, who marketed her as a country singer. Carpenter's first album, 1987's Hometown Girl, did not produce any singles, although 1989's State of the Heart and 1990's Shooting Straight in the Dark each produced four Top 20 hits on the Billboard country singles charts.
Carpenter's most successful album to date remains 1992's Come On Come On, which yielded seven charting country singles and was certified quadruple platinum in the U.S. for sales exceeding four million copies. She followed it with Stones in the Road (1994) and A Place in the World (1996), which both featured hit singles. In the 2000s, Carpenter's albums departed both thematically and musically from her early work, becoming less radio-friendly and more focused on societal and political issues. Her most acclaimed and most topical album to date, The Calling, was released in March 2007. She followed that with The Age of Miracles in April 2010.
Carpenter has won five Grammy Awards, and is the only artist to have won four consecutive Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, which she received from 1992 to 1995.Harrington, Richard. "Mary Chapin Carpenter, Taking Her Time," The Washington Post, 1994-05-25. As of 2005, she had sold more than 12 million records.Lehndorff, John. , Chicago Sun-Times, 2005-05-13. Retrieved on 2007-11-27.
Carpenter has performed on television shows such as Late Night with David Letterman and Austin City Limits, radio shows such as The Diane Rehm Show and tours frequently, returning to Washington almost every summer to perform at the popular outdoor venue Wolftrap.
Carpenter was born in Princeton, New Jersey to Chapin Carpenter Jr., a Life Magazine executive, and Mary Bowie Robertson. Carpenter lived in Japan from 1969 to 1971 before moving to Washington, D.C.Zimmerman, David. "Carpenter’s foundation: Country star true to her folk roots," USA Today, 1994-10-05. She attended Princeton Day School, a private coeducational prep school,Kallas, Anna. , Dayton Daily News, June 1, 1997. Accessed December 3, 2007. "Chris and I went to the same private school in New Jersey - Princeton Day School - as did Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Menendez brothers, but more about them later." before graduating from The Taft School in 1976.Schoemer, Karen. , The New York Times, August 1, 1993. Accessed December 3, 2007. "Born and reared in Princeton, N.J., one of four sisters whose father, Chapin Carpenter, worked for Life magazine, Carpenter is suburban to the core. What's more, she attended private schools, including the Taft School in Connecticut, and graduated from Brown University."
Carpenter described her childhood as "pretty typical suburban," with her musical interests defined chiefly by her sisters' albums of artists such as The Mamas & the Papas, the Beatles, and Judy Collins.Wing, Eliza. "Country’s Unlikely Star: Bending the genre, Mary-Chapin Carpenter shoots straight for the top," Rolling Stone, 1991-03-21. When Carpenter was 16 her parents divorced, an event that affected Carpenter and that she wrote about in her song "House of Cards." Carpenter spent much of her time in high school playing the guitar and piano; while at Princeton Day School, her "classmates threatened to cut her guitar strings if she played "Leaving on a Jet Plane" one more time."Duncan, Petie Oliphant, and Stuart Duncan. "100 Years of Theatre," speech given at the Princeton Day School Centennial Follies, October 1999. Reprinted in Princeton Day School Mame playbill, February 2000. Despite her interest in music, Carpenter never considered performing publicly until, shortly after graduating from Taft, her father suggested that she perform at a local open-mike bar, a stressful experience for the shy Carpenter, who recalled, "I thought I was going to barf."Harrington, Richard. "Carpenter, Building a Name: The Washington Area’s Singer-Songwriter & Her Label of Success," The Washington Post, 1989-06-11.
Carpenter graduated from Brown University in 1981 with a degree in American Civilization. Carpenter played some summer sets in Washington's music scene, where she met guitarist John Jennings, who would become her producer and long-time collaborator. However, she considered music a hobby and planned on getting a "real job." She briefly quit performing, but after several job interviews decided to return to music. Carpenter was persuaded by Jennings to play original material instead of covers. Within a few years, she landed a manager and recorded a demo tape that led to a deal with Columbia Records.
Early records and "country" label
Carpenter's first album, Hometown Girl, was produced by John Jennings and was released in 1987. Though songs from Hometown Girl got play on public and college radio stations, it was not until Columbia began promoting Carpenter as a "country" artist that she found a wider audience. For a long time, Carpenter was ambivalent about this pigeonholing, saying she preferred the term "singer-songwriter" or "slash rocker" (as in country/folk/rock). She told Rolling Stone in 1991, "I've never approached music from a categorization process, so to be a casualty of it is real disconcerting to me".
Some music critics argue that Carpenter's style covers a range of influences even broader than those from "country" and "folk." Time critic Richard Corliss described the songs in her album A Place in the World as "reminiscent of early Beatles or rollicking Motown," and one reviewer of Time* Sex* Love* noted the "wash of Beach Boys-style harmoniesbackwards guitar loops" and use of a sitar on one track,Abbott, Jim. "Chapin Carpenter is no longer sure if she can be called ‘country’." The Orlando Sentinel, 2001-08-03. all elements not commonly found on a country or folk album.
After 1989's State of the Heart, Carpenter released Shooting Straight in the Dark in 1990, which yielded her biggest single up to that point, the Grammy Award-winning "Down at the Twist and Shout". Two years later, Carpenter released the album that, to date, has been her biggest popular success, Come On Come On (1992). The album went quadruple platinum, remaining on the Country Top 100 list for more than 97 weeks, and eventually spawned seven charting singles. Come On Come On was also critically acclaimed; The New York Timess Karen Schoemer wrote that Carpenter had "risen through the country ranks without flash or bravado: no big hair, sequined gowns, teary performancesenriched with Ms. Carpenter's subtlety, Come On Come On grows stronger and prettier with every listen."
The songs of Come On Come On had the qualities that would come to identify her work: humorous, fast-paced country-rock songs with themes of perseverance, desire, and independence, alternating with slow, introspective ballads that speak to social or relational issues.Joyce, Mike. "Even After 10 Years, Surprises Remain; A Fond Look Back With Mary Chapin Carpenter," The Washington Post, 1999-05-31. Retrieved on 2007-11-29. "Passionate Kisses", a cover of fellow singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams's 1988 song, was the album's third single. Carpenter's version peaked on the U.S. Country chart at #4, and was the first of Carpenter's songs to cross over to mainstream pop and adult contemporary charts, charting at #57 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #11 on Adult Contemporary.Chart numbers are based on information from the online databases , the , and .
The sixth single on Come On Come On, "He Thinks He'll Keep Her", was Carpenter's biggest hit off the album, charting at #2 on Billboard's Country chart and at #1 on Radio & Records's Country chart. Written by Carpenter and Don Schlitz, the fast-paced song follows a 36-year-old homemaker who leaves her husband, and was inspired by a 1970s series of Geritol commercials in which a man boasts of his wife's seemingly limitless energy and her many accomplishments, then concludes by saying "My wife...I think I'll keep her." Carpenter said, "That line has always stuck with me. It's just such a joke."Staff of WomaNews. "Smart Talk: Shortcuts," Chicago Tribune, 1992-09-06. The single received a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year.
Continued 1990s success
In the wake of Come On Come Ons success, Carpenter wrote songs for a variety of artists, including Joan Baez, who recorded "Stones in the Road" for her 1992 album Play Me Backwards after hearing Carpenter sing it live. Pop singer Cyndi Lauper co-wrote "Sally's Pigeons" with Carpenter and released it on her 1993 album Hat Full of Stars. Country singer Wynonna Judd recorded Carpenter's composition "Girls With Guitars" on her 1993 album Tell Me Why. Judd released the song as a single in 1994, in what Carpenter called "the most exciting thing that's ever happened to me as a songwriter," and it peaked on the U.S. Country chart at #10., Billboard.com. Retrieved on 2007-11-28. Later, Carpenter co-wrote "Where Are You Now," which Trisha Yearwood recorded on her 2000 album Real Live Woman; the song peaked on the Country chart at #45. In the 1990s, Carpenter also duetted with Shawn Colvin, a "longtime recording pal", and sang backup in Radney Foster's "Nobody Wins"Morse, Steve. "A Better Place: Mary Chapin Carpenter’s new CD presents her eclectic philosophy," The Boston Globe, 1996-11-29. Dolly Parton (on Parton's 1993 single "Romeo") and Joan Baez on a 1995 live recording of "Diamonds & Rust" (Baez had previously covered Carpenter's song "Stones in the Road"). Carpenter also performed a number of concerts with Baez and the Indigo Girls as The Four Voices, during the mid- to late-1990s.
Carpenter followed Come On Come On with 1994's Stones in the Road, at which point USA Today wrote that "without sounding anything like a country star was previously expected to sound, 's one of the genre's biggest stars." Stones in the Road sold only around two million copies, but was a crossover success with non-country audiences. Also in 1994, Carpenter contributed the song "Willie Short" to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Country produced by the Red Hot Organization. Carpenter's sixth album, A Place in the World, was released in 1996 to "raves" from publications as varied as Time, People, Elle, the New York Post, and USA Today. The Boston Globe found the album more "philosophical heady" than her previous work, and quoted Carpenter as saying, "ll I've wanted to get out of songwriting is a sense of growthI'm not shying away from any issues or subjects. I don't feel there's anything I can't address."
In 1996, Carpenter's cover of the John Lennon song "Grow Old With Me", from the Lennon tribute album Working Class Hero, became an Adult Contemporary chart hit. The song "10,000 Miles" was the signature track in the 1996 family film Fly Away Home.
In 1998, Carpenter was signed to write the music and lyrics for a planned Broadway musical adaptation of the 1953 western film Shane., BBC News, 1998-11-11. Retrieved on 2007-11-28. Producers proposed Shane to Carpenter after Dolly Parton, and then Garth Brooks, left the project. According to Carpenter, the producers singled out "songs like 'I Am a Town and 'John Doe No. 24,' songs that are story songs, very character driven, as the key that made them want to see if this was something I was interested in. I was surprised by that, and intrigued."Davis, John. T. "She's back -- without ever leaving", Austin American-Statesman, 1999-06-22. Carpenter left the project in 2000.http
MaryChape.jpgthumbright325pxCarpenter in concert in 2006.
In 2001, Carpenter released her first studio album in five years, Time*Sex*Love. The New York Times wrote that Carpenter was "harder than ever to define stylistically," and described the album as a departure, "essentially a concept album about middle age." In songs such as "The Long Way Home", Carpenter espoused taking life at one's own pace, rather than indulging in rampant goal-driven materialism.
Time*Sex*Love sold fewer copies than Carpenter's earlier work, and yielded only one charting single, "Simple Life," which peaked on the U.S. Country chart at #53. Carpenter explained that, "When the record was released, I really believed there were several radio-friendly songsit has been since proven to me that is not exactly the case."
In 2004, Carpenter released Between Here and Gone, a somber album that addressed events such as the events of September 11 and the death of singer-songwriter Dave Carter., NPR All Things Considered, 2004-11-25. (Carpenter states: "Actually, I wrote this song after I learned about the passing of an extraordinary musician by the name of Dave Carter. He was a visionary songwriter, he was part of a duo called, Carter and Grammer...") The album received some of the best reviews of Carpenter's career.
Carpenter's ninth studio album, The Calling, was released in 2007 by Rounder Records' rock/pop imprint Zoë, and featured commentary about contemporary politics, including reactions to the impact of Hurricane Katrina ("Houston") and the agreement with the Dixie Chicks ("On With the Song"). In less than three months after its release, The Calling sold more than 100,000 copies in the US, without benefit of any substantial airplay on commercial country radio. This was followed by a Christmas album, Come Darkness, Come Light, which mixed original and traditional material, also on the Zoë label., CMT News
Carpenter's latest studio album, The Age of Miracles was released on April 27, 2010.http It debuted at #28, her highest peak since 1996.
Despite a series of relationships, including one with John Jennings, the media made much of Carpenter's single status throughout the nineties; in a 1994 profile, Entertainment Weekly even dubbed her "a spokes-singer for the thirtysomething single woman." Carpenter has since married contractor Timmy Smith.Belcher, David. "A Storyteller Back at Her Craft," The New York Times, 2010-05-08. Throughout her career, she has actively supported various charities, including CARE and Habitat for Humanity, and has conducted fundraising concerts for such causes as the elimination of landmines.
Carpenter has struggled with periods of depression since childhood., Fox News, 2006-05-02. Retrieved on 2007-11-27. While on tour with her album The Calling in spring 2007, Carpenter experienced severe chest and back pain. She continued to perform until a bout of breathlessness took her to the ER, where she learned she had suffered a pulmonary embolism. Cancelling her summer tour to recover, Carpenter "felt that had let everyone down" and fell into a depression before rediscovering "the learning curve of gratitude."Carpenter, Mary Chapin. , Weekend Edition, National Public Radio, 24 June 2007. Retrieved on 27 November 2007. Carpenter spoke about the experience on National Public Radio's This I Believe program in June 2007.
Carpenter was the author of a biweekly column in the Washington Times from December 2008 to March 2009 in which she discussed topics related to music and politics.
Academy of Country Music
*1990 Top New Female Vocalist
*1992 Top Female Vocalist
Country Music Association
*1992 Female Vocalist of the Year
*1993 Female Vocalist of the Year
*1992 Best Country Vocal Performance, Female - "Down at the Twist and Shout"
*1993 Best Country Vocal Performance, Female - "I Feel Lucky"
*1994 Best Country Vocal Performance, Female - "Passionate Kisses"
*1995 Best Country Album - "Stones in the Road"
*1995 Best Country Vocal Performance, Female - "Shut Up and Kiss Me"
ReferencesThis text has been derived from Mary Chapin Carpenter on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0