Beth Nielsen Chapman - Uncovered (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
GRAMMY nominated artist Beth Nielsen Chapman has written some of the biggest country records of recent years… tracks like Strong Enough To Bend for Tanya Tucker and Nothin’ I Can Do About It Now for Willie Nelson, both of which went to No.1.
With her own new album, Uncovered, she rolls out a batch of premium songs she’s written but never recorded that have already been hits or covers by other artists. Most were top 10 hits, seven of which topped the charts.
The result is a solid set of tracks that pretty much underline everything you may already know about country. Fans will lap it up as they bear all the classic country hallmarks, while the nay’sayers will find little to convince them that country records don’t all sound the same.
Chapman has a pleasant set of vocals and has enlisted an enviable who’s who of supporting talent to embellish tracks. But there is quite often something missing to really make them stand out, even though they have already proved massive hits.
Here We Are, for instance, is a breezy country rocker that features Vince Gill and which has a real Nashville sound, while Sweet Love Sunshine has a Bon Jovi/Blaze of Glory kind of vibe that boasts some decent – but seldom firecracker – guitar riffs from Duane Eddy.
Pray is a gentle ballad that drops a nice flute instrumental mid-track but it will be too over-earnest for some tastes, and a little too holy, while – in contrast – upbeat pop moments like This Kiss conform to the type of sound that you’d also associate with every country singer from Sheryl Crow to Taylor Swift.
Three tracks do stand out more than most… the breezy, fiddle and banjo-backed Strong Enough To Bend (that Tanya Tucker track), One In A Million, a clap-happy ode to love that’s more robust than breezy and which succeeds in getting the toes tapping, and final track Almost Home, which has a shimmering pop sensibility, complete with tight harmonies and melodies, albeit with some decidedly bittersweet lyrics.
Chapman followers will doubtless love the fact she’s decided to come out and sing some of the songs she’s written and it’s good to see her doing so. But this is mostly for the country die-hards only and could have done with a little more diversity.
Download picks: Strong Enough To Bend, One In A Million, Almost Home