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4.7 out of 5 stars29
4.7 out of 5 stars
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 15 April 2011
It took much prevarication and a wonderful evening at Birmingham Town Hall in November, but I finally purchased "The Age of Miracles", gave it a few spins in the car, shrugged indifferently, and retired the disc to a shelf. One long winter later and a fortuitous song shuffle in the last two weeks from my antique iPod, and the twelve tracks that at first seemed barely indistinguishable from one another have now gotten in to my head - opening my eyes to a world of wonder and colour I'd forgotten existed.

The songs are a compelling mix of introspection, story telling, and life affirmation. "Mrs Hemingway" and "4 June 1989" tell two very different stories from the imagined perspective of the protagonists - a hint of regret and tragedy in both. The title track and "The Way I Feel" find equanimity between resignation and inspiration. The breadth of subject matter joined together by common threads is quite remarkable.

This is a work of genius by an artist with an amazing capacity of expression, sung beautifully and played superbly by very talented musicians. It may take a while to get into but you'll not regret the effort.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2010
Amongst her enviable back catalogue Mary Chapin Carpenter has demonstrated an unerring ability to mix tuneful and literate ballads with songs that are unafraid to rock out in all the right places. On her first full studio offering since 2007's superlative The Calling, she has delivered a much more laid back and largely acoustic selection of slower numbers inspired by a life-threatening health scare. The reflective style is more one-dimensional than usual, lacking the customary counterbalance of ballads and rockier numbers, though is far from bereft of Carpenter's customary deft touch with a well-chosen lyric. The cumulative effect occasionally becomes claustrophobic, and when she does let loose, as on 'What You Look For' and 'The Way I Feel' it comes as a relieving draught of fresh air rushing through a stuffy room as the melodies suddenly breathe and soar.

Many of these songs lack the immediacy that typifies much of Mary Chapin Carpenter's best work, but they do repay repeated listening for their subtleties to become more apparent. Songs like 'I Put My Ring Back On' and 'The Age Of Miracles' capture much of the usual magic, but others like 'Iceland' and 'Holding Up The Sky' demand more attention and hard work. Never a true Nashville star, veering increasingly towards folk, Mary Chapin Carpenter remains one of the best songwriters operating in this genre. It may be that this album was not intended to be a crowd-pleaser, more a work of personal significance that dresses to impress rather than dazzle. As with everything else that she has done, it is well worth sticking with it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 21 August 2010
MCC has always written such beautiful, thought provoking, honest and magical songs and this tradition just continues on this album. Track 7 Mrs Hemingway is possibly one of her best ever.

It sort of makes me sad that kids today raised on a diet of X factor will never know just how good real music can be. Some people have criticised this album of being self indulgent and going nowhere - all I can say is that they must have been listening to something else as I found just the opposite - she paints a whole vivid world with just one line of lyrics, her voice just melts your soul. This is proper music for grown ups who are not afraid to cry.

I can't wait to hear her perform some of these songs on her UK tour in the autumn.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2010
This latest cd follows on the heels of Mary's excellent Christmas album 'Come Darkness, Come Light' from 2008 and treads much the same path with the emphasis on heartfelt ballads rather than the rockier, country numbers that often, in my opinion, marred her earlier albums - think `Shut Up and Kiss Me' or 'Down At The Twist And Shout'. For me, this makes for a more listenable and consistent album that doesn't have me reaching for the remote to skip those tracks that spoil the mood.

Mary is a great storyteller and although the songs take a few listens, they really get under your skin after a while. This is what makes her albums so enduring and timeless.

My personal favourites include `Mrs Hemingway' with its romantic tale of life in Paris, the achingly beautiful `I Have A Need For Solitude' and the moving `4 June 1989' in which Mary recounts the events of the Tiananmen Square protests through the eyes of a young soldier.

If you are a fan of Mary's more recent albums such as 'The Calling` and 'Between Here And Gone',
then you will love discovering this new collection.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2010
I am tempted to write a glowing review, superlatives everywhere.

But suffice to say I am smitten by this CD. Everything is of the highest order. Musicianship is as great as the songwriting. Inventive guitar work that catches you out - some superb licks and support that really work often played lower than usual. Strong bass work, often growling melodically. Tasty drumming driving everything along beautifully. Acoustic guitar work played and recorded to near perfection, the different tones very noticeable and lovely to hear. The production is very crafty with lots of build-up on most songs and a really good layering of instruments as they chime in - like a live show.

MCC writes gorgeous songs and these are all fabulous. A song may, now and again, touch on something political but that makes them classics of their type. Who wants 'Moon and June' anyway?

Oh I have just written a glowing review. If you thought the previous two CD's were good, this will delight you even more. Buy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 May 2014
A huge fan of MCC. Goes back over 20 years. This album was so inspired I was crying on a train listening to it. I understand Mary's journey. Zephyr and I Put my Ring Back on as masterpieces of MCC's ability to tell snip its of ones life in 3 mins. Treat yourself and put the kettle on and prepare to be moved inside.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2010
This album marks a return to form; my favourite since 'Stones in the road'. Age of miracles is a thoughtful, contemplative work, which grows more after repeated listens. The music can be upbeat but also slow and tinged with melancholy as Mary-Chapin Carpenter sings about the redeeming power of love. From the opening track 'We traveled so far' to the final 'The way I feel' we are taken on an emotional journey, exploring what it feels like to be tethered and earth bound and yet yearning to be free. Positive thoughts always break through, over the beautiful melodies. Contender for CD of the year.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2010
A truly fantastic album - not a duff song on it BUT be warned it may well take you 10 listens before you realise it! Initially all the songs sound a bit the same, all a bit slow and gentle, all the same combination of (beautiful)guitar playing, gentle drums and background keyboard - certainly there are no stand out hit Singles. However over time each and every one gets under your skin and you begin to realise just how good her songs are. To be honest, there is not one track that I would be prepared to "cut".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 June 2011
Although I had vaguely heard of Mary Chapin Carpenter, it was only when I heard a song of hers played on the radio that I decided I wanted to hear more. I did a little research and after listening to a few tracks on Amazon I bought the cd. I am so glad I did as its a beautiful album. I can't write a 'clever' review but can only say that her voice is one of the most alluring and gorgeous I have heard and every track on this album is sublime. Buy it, chill out and listen to her wonderful voice and lyrics, and you surely won't be disappointed.
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on 8 June 2014
If the other reviewers think that this is Mary Chapin at her best I would suggest that they compare it with her last two albums "The age of miracles" released in 2010 or "The Calling" in 2007. They were both excellent and had a memorable mix of thoughtful and melancholic songs such as "Houston" and "Twilight", interspersed with more upbeat numbers like "I put my ring back on" which licks the list of mournful sons on this album to fits I'm afraid.

I'm so glad I checked out the tracks on Spotify first, before compounding the disappointment of hearing it by also wasting my money buying it.

I am truly a long time fan, and have every other album she's done since "Hometown Girl" in 1987, but I won't be buying this one.
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