There are many cover albums released each year – and most of them end up being only interesting to a minority of fans of the artist. Those that work best are often radical re-workings, or covers of lesser known material. Sometimes it is better not to know the originals at all – but here Texan Beth Nielsen Chapman is very familiar with the songs, as she indulges in a covers album of her own material – those that have been hits for other artists.
So does that count as a covers album at all? Probably not. But it’s an idea recently explored to mixed results by songwriting legend Jimmy Webb. And here too, the results are variable, despite an impressive guest list, including the likes of Kim Carnes and Vince Gill.
On the plus side – the likes of Almost Home, originally a hit for Mary Chapin Carpenter, has a smooth groove as Nielsen-Chapman is joined by Gretchen Peters, Matraca Berg and Suzi Bogguss. Meet Me Halfway (first performed by Bonnie Raitt) shares the same DNA, as does Here We Are featuring Vince Gill.
But on opener Simple Things, about life’s little wonders, the production lacks oomph and likewise on This Kiss. The song was originally a Grammy nominated hit for Faith Hill, but here its spark is lost. It’s always worth a listen though for the bizarre way the word centrifugal is shoe-horned into the chorus.
In a way, the album has the feel of self-indulgence but since 2005’s commercial sounding Look, the Texas singer has trodden a determined path. It seems she is happy experimenting (as on the religious driven double-album Prism) or doing her own thing (the disappointing Back To Love) – but with the catalog of songs she has built through her whole career, Nielsen-Chapman deserves the right to do what she wants.
The track list:
- Simple Things
- Here We Are
- Sweet Love Shine
- Maybe That’s All It Takes
- This Kiss
- Nothin’ I Can Do About It Now
- Strong Enough To Bend
- Meet Me Halfway
- One In A Million
- Five Minutes
- Almost Home