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Americana I & II

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Album Review

This combination of Michael Chapman's two Americana albums is where his renaissance really begins, with some wonderful, thoughtful guitar work on the acoustic — exactly what he does so well, taking ideas and playing with them. He's a great picker, and one whose relaxed style readily evokes long afternoons in the American South. There's nothing to choose above anything else on the two discs — in fact, putting them together is completely natural. Chapman can be impressionistic, as on "Swamp" or "Blues for the Mother Road," but also quite straightforward — witness "The Coming of the Roads" or the brief "Dust Devils." The lovely thing about this record is that it falls outside any easy categorization. It's not quite folk, not alt-country, and not easy listening (although it's easy to listen to). Instead, it perhaps stands among the pantheon of new pickers, the ones who could be the Windham Hill of the new millennium. But there's plenty of depth to every piece of music here, the sign of a craftsman at the top of his trade.


Born: January 24, 1941 in Leeds, England

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A former art and photography teacher, Michael Chapman emerged from the folk scene in Yorkshire, England, gaining a reputation as one of England's finest original singer/songwriters. A deal with the fledgling Harvest label (EMI's "underground" boutique) led to the release of Rainmaker in 1969. The album featured the support of Rick Kemp (who went on to provide bass for Chapman for many years) and Danny Thompson. Window followed in short order, with Fully Qualified Survivor completing a debut triptych...
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