Album Review: The Age Of Miracles by Mary Chapin Carpenter
Satisfactory, Based on 3 Critics
AllMusic - 80 Based on rating 8/10
While Mary Chapin Carpenter enjoyed an impressive run of hits on the country charts during the 1990s, it was always clear that she was a folk-influenced singer/songwriter who found a way to coexist with Nashville rather than an artist whose first goal was landing singles on country radio. Now that Carpenter has left the major labels, she seems more than willing to let the country side of her musical personality fade, and her 11th studio album, 2010's The Age of Miracles, is a literate and thoughtful set of songs that speak to the concerns of the heart and soul with equal portions of compassion and intelligence. The audience that made "Down at the Twist and Shout" and "Shut Up and Kiss Me" chart favorites aren't likely to embrace The Age of Miracles, but as a personal work it's as affecting as anything she's ever cut and one of her most lyrically ambitious sets to date.
It’s almost hard to believe that the last time Mary Chapin Carpenter had a bona fide hit was in 1996. Part of that disbelief comes from the fact that many of today contemporary mainstream country stars owe a copious debt to Carpenter, whose soulful and intimate songs never committed to one specific label. The pop-inflected roots folk that Carpenter crafted earned her a string of hits and is still well alive in the likes of Sugarland, Little Big Town, and even (to a much lesser degree) Taylor Swift.
Rumination on life and love In 2001, Mary Chapin Carpenter abandoned her sassy country twang to release time* sex* love, a brooding folk album filled with poignant musings and prayers for inner peace. After nine years and two albums of near-formulaic somber meditations, Carpenter is still trudging down that grueling path. Reprising her well-worn role as a pensive, wistful artist, Carpenter’s latest is a pastiche of her respectable and nakedly honest earlier work.