From the rolling opener Something Tamed Something Wild, via an intimate, hymnal tribute to the pioneering Sister Rosetta Tharpe, to the stark, closing title track, The Things That We Are Made Of sees Mary Chapin Carpenter return to a varied blend of folk, country and rock after 2014’s orchestral Songs From The Movie.
Although helped by her early popularity with country stations, the five-time Grammy award winning singer-songwriter transcended that tag, finding mass appeal with Come On Come On (1992). Some well-chosen covers over the years, foregoing Nashville for the likes of Tom Waits, Dire Straits and Bruce Springsteen, have shown that Carpenter is not an artist for easy categorisation – one whose warm, rich tones and poetic, often deeply personal lyrics find favour well into her fourth decade in music.
Ahead of a Barbican date and UK tour in July, Mary Chapin rooted about in her music memory to find the 10 albums that have influenced her most for her This Music Made Me…
Andy Irvine and Paul Brady – Andy Irvine and Paul Brady
As a teenager I played this record until I wore it out. Then I bought more copies. And wore them out too.
It’s a stunning collection of traditional, celtic, instrumentals and songcraft by two of the greatest musicians in those overlapping worlds.
Tony Rice – Church Street Blues
This is another record that I wore out and then replaced any number of times… Tony’s gift as a one of the world’s greatest living flat pickers is on full display here; he merges his background as a blue grass genius with songs by some of the great singer songwriters of his generation. A gem.
The Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
What can be said about this life changing record?
It’s already been said, and I will simply add that in truth every Beatles record could be on this list alongside this one.
Crowded House – Crowded House
I have loved the pure pop song craft of Crowded House, Neil Finn, the Finn Brothers since the first notes of this record reached my ears.
Bob Dylan – Blood On The Tracks
I think I played this album every day of every month of every year of high school.
I think that the records you love during that time in your life stay with you forever.
Jorma Kaukonen – Quah
This is another high school soundtrack.
I particularly loved his version of the Rev Gary Davis’ I Am The Light Of This World.
Kate and Anna McGarrigle – Kate And Anna McGarrigle
The songwriting on this record is so stunning, the plaintive quality of their voices and harmonies so ghostly gorgeous; it is like a perfect vessel of their work.
The Band – The Band
Every song on this album kills me. The Band were incredibly important to me as I was growing up.
They had such a handmade quality to what they did, but it was never precious or frail, just utterly original.
Jackson Browne – Jackson Browne
Intelligent, musical, hit bound. This was California to me long before I ever got there.
Joni Mitchell – Hejira
Songs of love and travel, mystical and life transforming. Joni Mitchell has been such an enormous artistic influence on so many artists, it’s almost impossible to overstate it.
I think she is a genius, as a writer, a player and a creative force.
Mary Chapin Carpenter’s The Things That We Are Made Of is out now through Lambent Light. Tour dates and further information can be found here.