Chapin storms Red Butte | Buzz Blog

Chapin storms Red Butte

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Tonight marked the return of Mary Chapin Carpenter to Red Butte after a lengthy absence caused in part by a pulminary embolism in 2007. Judging by the often rapturous applause, it was a more than welcome return.--- 

Alt-country singer-song writer Garrison Starr opened with a short, muscular set that saw her let fly with a handful of southern ya-alls and the odd f-bomb while speculating on snakes plaguing those folk watching the show from behind the fences. She was also back-up singer for country queen turned folkie back-to-the country legend Carpenter, and, in one of two show-stoppers, covered Carpenter's 'You win again' while the song's creator duetted with her. 

One of my vinyl treasures remains Carpenter's 1994 'State of the heart' album. She didn't play any tracks from it and at times the more portentous later songs that she tapped, including 'The Calling' about, yep, the callings of those inspired to change life, dragged a tad. I yearned for the simple, direct country ballads that mined the extraordinary richness of her voice with adroit and moving tales of broken hearts anchored by beautifully precise imagery. I defy anyone to listen to Carpenter's 'This shirt' from 'State of the heart' and not be both touched and amazed at the way she charts a relationship through the history of the shirt in her hands.

Some of those pleasures were, however, in evidence with a song from her new album - she eloquently argues for both record and album as appropriate vocabulary for her music output rather than the antiseptic cd. A song she performed from this year's release 'The age of miracles,' called 'Mrs Hemingway' about the writer's first wife was a stunningly beautiful hymn to marriage while mourning lost love and the innocent commitment that love held. 

As the evening wound down, Utah's sky demonstrated delicate shades of mauve and orange and the finest combed strands of cloud imaginable. It was the perfect setting to a sumptuous feast of Carpenter's catalogue, ably supported by a back-up band that included legendary producer Don Dixon.

As I left, I couldn't help but notice the blissful peace that so many faces in the audience demonstrated as they watched Carpenter play. Their expressions captured something exquisitely magical about both the performer and her music that lingered in the mind long after the show ended. 

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