Many songwriters have sung about the human condition, but few really get to its beating heart. Beth Nielsen Chapman is one of the great American songwriters who can tap into that understanding with integrity and pathos. She's had a fair few battles of her own too including losing her first husband to cancer at a young age and winning her own war with the disease, both giving further credence to her writing.
Hearts of Glass is another gem of an album from Chapman with perfectly formed vignettes of love, pain, loss, and the general fragility of life. Her pure velveteen voice has a lullaby quality to it, with the emotion of Mary Chapin Carpenter and the bright twang of Shania Twain. She's one of those rare vocalists that have the ability to break your heart and mend it within the space of three minutes. There's a deep strength to her music; a glorious optimism that sees the beauty in life hidden among the tragedy. When it comes to a Beth Nielsen Chapman album even the stoniest of people will have a hard time not shedding a tear or two.
The album is comprised of mostly self-penned tracks along with reworkings of older gems from earlier albums. Come To Mine and Enough For Me are perfect examples of Chapman at her uplifting and enchanting best; yet within a few tracks, she’s taken us into another darker world of domestic violence in Rage On Rage. Chapman tackles the devastating subject of dementia in the delicate and heartbreaking reworking of Child Again. Long time listeners of Chapman's work will be familiar with her unrivalled ability to combine extreme emotions and offer profound hope in the bleakest moments. Once again these themes in her writing come to the fore in a stripped back and more pensive version of Life Holds On, originally from Chapmans 1990 self-titled album, 1993's Dancer To The Drum also gets a reworking. These renditions have similarities, but the one thing that stands out in the 25 years between them is Chapman's voice: this time around the tracks bristle with life experience and the feeling of wounds that are still raw and those that have healed is heartbreakingly palpable. We all have hearts of glass and this is reflected in the beauty and honesty of Beth Nielson Chapman's music. She is able to get to the core of human emotions, see through the darkness and take us to the light on other side and that makes her a rare and beautiful talent of our time.
Groupie Rating 5/5