Mary Chapin Carpenter - The Calling

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Mary Chapin Carpenter - The Calling

Folk-pop so tasteful it’s almost not there

The title track of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s ninth studio album finds the singer taking aim at the “holier-than-thou” political forces who claim God is guiding their cause. But while her intent may be to excoriate, her feathery vocal approach and well-polished folk-rock style take much of the sting from her message. It’s this flawlessness of execution that ultimately proves the disc’s greatest flaw, with well-crafted tunes passing pleasantly, though not always memorably. One of the exceptions is “Houston,” a sensitive lament for New Orleans delivered with raw immediacy and powerful lyrical detail. Elsewhere, the sweet rhapsody of “Twilight” and the melancholy of “Leaving Song” are pretty moments, but they don’t feel particularly special. Though much of the blandness can be attributed to Matt Rollings’ MOR production, one is left wishing an artist of Carpenter’s considerable talents would eschew the aural dreck and truly shine.

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