Michael Chapman was, in the late 60s and early 70s, a well-established figure in the Brit folk nobility along with a number of even larger figures like Roy Harper, Bert Jansch, and John Martyn. Chapman attracted the attention of high-level players along the lines of Mick Ronson (Bowie & Spiders), Paul Buckmaster (better known for arranging), Gus Dudgeon (big time producer), Rick Kemp (Steeleye Span), Rod Clements & Ray Laidlaw (Lindisfarne), and so on. For three major labels, he put out eight well-regarded LPs that slowly wended their way to a more rock-ish sound, Afterwards came a fade into the alt market where he returned to folk and composed much more instrumentally, which this CD emphasizes beautifully…to the surprise of cats like me who have his early output and hadn't expected it at all.
Chapman has a marvelous fingerpicking style that slips in between Jansch, Ralph McTell, Al Stewart, Peter Lang, John Fahey, and the more prosaic players favoring slowly evolving patterns and sonic stories rather than lightning riffs and bizarre tempi. The guy's now 67 and has developed a very masterful hand, confident, lithe, measuring itself by the richness and expressiveness of lines put through often trance-ily fascinating changes. There are, however, several vocal cuts, mostly in a sprechestimmish tone, redolent not only of worldliness but weariness as well, always a good combination in folk and blues.
Speaking of blues, a couple of times Chapman demonstrates the same raw and rootsy immediacy of a Bernie Pearl, especially when playing slide, though most of the album is serene, sometimes jazzily fractured, folk and quasi-classically chamberish, modern instrumentation with elder values. Since 1969, the guy has put out 32 releases, no small feat. On this one, as I also suspect is the case in much of his recenter output, you get just him and his guitars along with an effects pedal or two, and the result couldn't be more pleasing.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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