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Grown Up

The Chapmans

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Album Review

This may well be the first time the idea of historical revisionism has been invoked in the title of a bluegrass album. Despite what the title might seem to suggest, this isn't a best-of. It's their first album for the Compass label, and as it turns out it's the first part of the album title that really signifies: this is bluegrass by musicians who have matured into their talent and seem to have little to prove. The songs themselves are the focus of the music-making, and while the band's playing is absolutely tight and professional, there's precious little here in the way of high-flying technical fireworks or complex vocal harmonies. (Though we do get a bit of fancy-pants Dobro picking from guest musician Rob Ickes.) And what songs they are: the original "Why Did You Lie" opens the program in a defiantly midtempo and absolutely perfectly heartbroken mode; a tasteful rendition of Buck Owens' classic "Love's Gonna Live Here" (with guest vocalist Rhonda Vincent) tips the hat graciously to the departed master of Bakersfield country; the swinging "Bubble Gum Baby" may be a trifle, but it's also a fine example of bluegrass-style Texas swing, a fusion not commonly attempted and even more rarely mastered. And if you find yourself missing the technical fireworks that bluegrass albums so often offer, the group does throw you a bone with "El Cumbanchero" — not that it sounds like bluegrass. What it sounds like is norteño klezmer music, which is pretty dang nifty. And in the Cool Covers department, we've got Sam Cooke's "Bring It on Home to Me," while in the Uncool Covers department, we've got James Taylor's "Rolling Away on a Big Sternwheeler." Something for everyone, in other words. Brilliant.

Biography

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The Chapmans don't quite fit the profile of the usual family bluegrass band. Unlike the Renos, the McCourys, and others, there are no ancestors with years of musical experience lurking in the Chapmans' background, nor does the obvious talent stretch back generation after generation. They are the first of the family to carve out a career in music, but they aren't going at it alone. All the members of the Chapman family — father Bill; mother Patti; and sons Jason, Jeremy, and John — were...
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Grown Up, The Chapmans
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