In my latest review roundup for Country Universe, I tackle new releases from Mary Chapin Carpenter, Zephaniah OHora and Colter Wall. You can check that out here.
Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Dirt and the Stars
- Favorite tracks: “Between the Dirt and the Stars,” “Nocturne,” “All Broken Hearts Break Differently”
- Least favorite track: “Secret Keepers”
- Rating: Strong 6/10
Zephaniah OHora, Listening to the Music
- Favorite tracks: “Listening to the Music,” “Time Won’t Take Its Time,” “You Make It Easy to Love Again”
- Least favorite track: “All-American Singer”
- Rating: Light 6/10
Colter Wall, Western Swing & Waltzes and Other Punchy Songs
- Favorite tracks: “Cowpoke,” “Rocky Mountain Rangers,” “Big Iron”
- Least favorite track: “Talkin’ Prairie Boy”
- Rating: Decent 5/10
I had to warm up to Mary Chapin Carpenter’s latest work. I love her ’90s material, and I even like 2016’s The Things We Are Made Of to an extent. But, as I say in the review, gripping material needs more than so-so music supporting it, especially when there’s no shortage of intelligent material like this offering a bit more with the presentation of it. I almost skipped out on covering it altogether, but there is a slight beauty to be found in some of the lyrics and themes. Maybe I’m just feeling charitable toward this sort of low-key material in this weird year.
As for Zephiniah OHora and Colter Wall – since I know those reviews will make everyone happy – if I may get on my soapbox for a second to make an irrelevant point for a silly, nonessential topic, I don’t write reviews for validation or to meet consensus approval. And the fact that this drew replies on Twitter – when my positive Karen Jonas and Ruston Kelly reviews didn’t, mind you – kind of bums me out that it’s the “negative” coverage people will gravitate to toward most. I’ll say it once, for the record – bloggers like me are just normal people sharing opinions for the absolute hell of it. It isn’t any more serious than that. I didn’t care for either album from the get-go, but still thought the artists in question were worth the discussion, and I’m a firm believer that those discussions have to be honest. I write for the discussion aspect in general, hence the usual longer reviews.