Album Review: Ashes and Roses by Mary Chapin Carpenter
Satisfactory, Based on 4 Critics
AllMusic - 70 Based on rating 7/10
On Ashes and Roses, songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter offers the most confessional record of her career. Always a storyteller whose protagonists could be seamlessly interchanged with the first person, that distance shrinks here; all that's left is the songwriter confronting herself in a mirror. Carpenter examines heartbreak, grief, loneliness, yearning, acceptance, gratitude, and new possibility with a gaze brimming with self-respect and compassion.
Mary Chapin Carpenter is the master of the breathy earnest vocal, the kind that makes you think you will hear a revelation or at least something important every moment of the song. She uses this singing style in various ways. She can set you up for a joke one minute and then get to the serious heart of the matter the next. Usually, Carpenter executes this sparingly on her albums so when she does, it makes a big impact.
Since 2010’s The Age of Miracles, singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter has endured a series of personal setbacks and tragedies, including a divorce and the death of her father. Those are the kinds of life experiences that, for most of her career, Carpenter has been able to translate into introspective, insightful songs that showcase both her wisdom and wit. But she’s been treading water artistically for years now, recording and re-recording slight variations on the same polite, coffeehouse-folk album, and Ashes and Roses is just as lifeless as its predecessor.
Unlikely to woo passers-by, but long-time admirers will adore Carpenter’s latest. Chris Roberts 2012 Country/folk icon and multiple Grammy-winner Mary Chapin Carpenter describes her latest album as “about grief and loss”. In recent years she’s experienced divorce, serious illness and the death of her father, the accumulative trauma of which hurled her into depression.