Mary Chapin Carpenter: "The Calling"
Mary Chapin Carpenter's The Calling, her first release for Zöe/Rounder, is unique among a body of work that has earned her five Grammy Awards and helped her sell 13 million records in the first 20 years of her career. While her writing continues to be deeply personal, this new collection of songs also unequivocally addresses issues both public and political: from the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina to religious zealotry to the trial-by-radio of the Dixie Chicks. Thematically, the album is about faith, vocation, commitment, responsibility, and the ways these are wielded for various - often, competing - agendas.
The Calling is Carpenter's second co-production with pianist Matt Rollings. The pair had initially worked together on Carpenter's 2004 disc, Between Here and Gone, which also marked the first time Carpenter actually recorded in a Nashville studio, despite such country chart staples as "I Feel Lucky," "Shut Up and Kiss Me" and "Down at the Twist and Shout." (When "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" was nominated in 1995 for Record of the Year, it was the second time in Grammy history that a nomination in this category had gone to a country artist.)
On The Calling, as in previous recordings, Carpenter confidently crosses boundaries of genre, incorporating elements of folk and rock as well as country into the mix. The Central Virginia-based Carpenter returned to Nashville last year to record The Calling and assembled many of the same players from the Between Here and Gone sessions, along with veteran engineer Chuck Ainlay, the long-standing right-hand man to Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits.