Marshall Chapman

Big Lonesome

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Marshall Chapman is one of Nashville's most idiosyncratic songwriters. She's been making her living as a songwriter since she landed in Music City in the late '60s, but has a relatively low profile as a performer outside of Nashville. She's had her tunes covered by Conway Twitty, Emmylou Harris, John Hiatt, and Tanya Tucker, as well as landing four cuts she co-wrote with Jimmy Buffett on his Last Mango in Paris album. In 2010, Chapman published her second book, They Came to Nashville, a collection of conversations with songwriters about, what else, songwriting, got a high profile acting gig as Gwyneth Paltrow's road manager in Country Strong, and launched her musical Good Ol' Girls in New York. She also released this album, which some are calling her masterpiece. With a handpicked band of Nashville country and alt-rock heavies, Chapman romps through nine sharp originals and two covers. Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" is taken at an appropriately funereal pace with Chapman delivering a subdued vocal and Will Kimbrough adding a lonesome slide guitar solo. Cindy Walker's "Going Away Party" gets a torchy, sultry reading with a wistful vocal and smooth muted trumpet work by Steve Herman. The title track is one of Chapman's best, a country heartbreaker with a growling, twangy, heavy lead guitar and one of Chapman's most sardonic vocals. "Sick of Myself" is a country-blues shuffle that makes self-pity sound like fun. "I Can't Stop Thinking About You" is a tribute to her songwriting partner Tim Krekel, who recently passed away, a slow, solemn song full of burnished grief. "Riding with Willie" commemorates the weeks Chapman spent on Willie Nelson's tour bus in 2008. It's a heartfelt tribute to the life of a touring musician with a hint of Mexico in its mellow arrangement. The set closes with a live performance of the jubilant rocker "I Love Everybody," which starts slow then kicks into overdrive, giving the boys in the band a chance to strut their stuff. It's one of the last tunes she recorded with Krekel, and the album's dedicated to his memory.

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