Jen Chapin


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Sometimes singer/songwriters with eclectic musical tastes can seem bland or unfocused. Fortunately, Jen Chapin is able to blend her folk, jazz, blues, and other influences into a coherent and expressive urban folk style. She tends to favor measured performances over cutting totally loose, but her singing is soulful enough to give her music some backbone. The lyrics to "Gold" provide a good indication of how she is both similar to and different from her father, Harry Chapin; she shares her father's interest in social issues, as indicated by the song's inspiration (a comment by a sharecropper who was interviewed by civil rights leader James Foreman), but she has also been influenced by R&B, as indicated by her name-dropping trombonist Fred Wesley (James Brown, Parliament) during the song. Chapin seems equally comfortable gently chiding people for their political apathy ("Passive People") or using food metaphors for sex ("Me Be Me"); other songs are about heartbreak, hope, nostalgia, self-discovery, and her friend Kristy Ryan, who was killed on 9/11. The album also includes a couple numbers, "'Til I Get There" and "Manchild," that Chapin performed on Live at the Bitter End.

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