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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Most Wonderful Discovery
I find this new album by Mary Chapin Carpenter very moving, beautiful and poignant. it is a wonderfully crafted and produced album from a great song-writer. I had not really listened to Mary's songs before even though she had been recommended to me by others in the past. I tended to shy away from what I thought was 'country' music. However the title of Mary's album...
Published on 20 Nov. 2012 by Jeffers

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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for manic depressives!
The BBC Review actually sums this cd up = "This profoundly personal album is unlikely to woo passers-by, but loyal, long-time admirers will adore it."
I only have 1 other MCC cd, 'Come On Come On' from 1992, which is a much easier listen than 'Ashes & Roses'. 20 years further on and the voice has become a little monotonous, the content more introspective (which the...
Published on 8 April 2013 by Gandalf


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Most Wonderful Discovery, 20 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Ashes & Roses (Audio CD)
I find this new album by Mary Chapin Carpenter very moving, beautiful and poignant. it is a wonderfully crafted and produced album from a great song-writer. I had not really listened to Mary's songs before even though she had been recommended to me by others in the past. I tended to shy away from what I thought was 'country' music. However the title of Mary's album and my own personal life at this time seem to have searched each other out; hence a most wonderful discovery. I wholly recommend this album to all who like good, reflective song-writing, accoustically produced, written from the heart and soul of a lady with a beautiful voice. Ashes and Roses is my album of 2012.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Reflection Upon Troubled Times, 2 July 2012
By 
Angel Delta (Southsea Hants) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Ashes & Roses (Audio CD)
Like her near contemporary Nanci Griffith, Mary Chapin Carpenter writes highly literate songs that are odes to introspection, confession, catharsis and loss. In 2007 she suffered a pulmonary embolism, her father died and she went through a divorce. The album seems to be a reflection upon those troubled times.

It is a gentle, mainly acoustic, work and she uses the voice and phrasing of a folk singer to explore the darker corners of the soul. As she explains in "The Swords We Carried"

"And grief became my company, pain so deep I could not breathe,
All betrayal is like dying in slow motion".

In "Chasing What's Already Gone" her father appears in a dream to tell her "You're gonna be alright", but she felt as empty as she'd ever been:

"Ashes and roses and hearts that break
I tried so hard to be strong
But maybe my worries were not my first mistake
I'm chasing what's already gone".

The lyrics are illuminated by a magical arrangement of Hammond B3, mandolin, acoustic guitars and piano. But as well as the lyrical content this is also an album of exquisite melodies and deliberately understated arrangements. A simple piano accompaniment on "Jericho" from producer Sonny Rollings is perfect as she confides:

"And you can't hear me yet, listening takes a long, long time,
And I've so much to tell, but words die on these lips of mine".

Lyrics, melody and musicianship combine beautifully in "I Tried Going West":

"A letter a day I wrote back to you
But not one you ever received
'cause I can't stand the man that lies like you do
And I can't bear a woman who bleeds".

Because Mary's voice is so intrinsic to the spirit of the self penned songs the duet with James Taylor on "Soul Companion" doesn't contribute as much to the album as perhaps it should. But that is a minor quibble about an album that is a combination of lyrical and musical perfection.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and Melancholy, 2 July 2012
By 
douglas smith (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Ashes & Roses (Audio CD)
I have loved all of Mary's most recent albums from `Between Here And Gone' through to 2010's `Age Of Miracles' and this latest release doesn't disappoint. The album comprises mainly gentle, acoustic ballads which showcase perfectly Mary's talents as a singer and storyteller. I have to admit this one took a little longer than its predecessors to get under my skin but after several listens the melodies and lyrics really do shine through.

It's hard to pick a favourite track but the combination of Mary and James Taylor on `Soul Companion' is definitely a highlight along with the more upbeat opener 'Transcendal Reunion'.

Tasteful music, tastefully packaged for the discerning listener.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary's masterpiece, 10 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Ashes & Roses (Audio CD)
It seems that when Mary Chapin Carpenter releases an album these days, many reviews say "her best days are behind her" or it is "nowhere near as good as "Come On Come On". For me, it is the exact opposite. Mary has matured, like a fine wine, and some of her aficionados have travelled the road with her. I have been listening to her songs for nearly twenty-five years of my life now. She no longer writes or records "I Feel Lucky" or "Shut Up And Kiss Me" country rock romps. Her songs are now moving, mournful, mature and often melancholic. She currently writes as a fifty-something so there is a fair chance that is the group she will appeal to. So many artists now in their fifties, sixties or even seventies find their music compared unfavourably to the work they released in their twenties and certainly in Mary Chapin Carpenter's case, it is a shame, because this album is possibly her masterpiece. If anyone has ever had to empty the house of a deceased parent, then "What To Keep And What To Throw Away" will resonate, heartbreakingly.

She covers a variety of subjects though - it is not all death, illness and loss. There is air travel and New Year's Eve. They are all approached with a deep sensitivity and thoughtfulness rare in many songwriters. Mary Chapin Carpenter really is one of the best there has ever been. Unfortunately she will never be fully recognised as so.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mary back on top, 13 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Ashes & Roses (Audio CD)
This is the album - for me - where Mary feels back on top of her form and supremely confident of her own talents, without ever sounding smug or self-satisfied. She knows better than to do that. In a way it's a one-idea album - you can't change your past, don't beat yourself up about it, but you can't prevent memories resurfacing - but all the songs are deep, genuine and heartfelt. I hear she's doing an album and tour with an orchestra. That may be because she feels she's taken her small, intimate band sound as far as she can, at least for a while and that may be true cos she's certainly put the band to best use here. Mary's disarming contralto voice has got deeper with age, but she sure does it for me! A huge talent who got better - and sexier - with the passage of time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 8 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: Ashes & Roses (Audio CD)
I bought this having read a review in a daily newspaper. Previously I had not heard of Mary. She has a wonderful melodious voice and her lyrics are, at times, very moving.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great album, 4 April 2014
By 
Wiggins (Sarf London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ashes & Roses (Audio CD)
This is a really lovely album, full of well crafted songs which are beautifully played and produced. While it might seem a liitle introspective and downbeat to some, for me, it stands up well to Mary's better known and more succesful albums. My favourite track is "Chasing What's Already Gone". If you fancy a listen before you buy, there are a number of the songs on YouTube and extracts from the excellent series' of Transatlantic Sessions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 5 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Ashes And Roses (MP3 Download)
This is a lovely, haunting, gentle collection of really personal songs, all delivered in Mary Chapin Carpenter's unique style. Beautiful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ashes & Roses - great stuff Mary, 3 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Ashes And Roses (MP3 Download)
Mary Chapin Carpenter always delivers good quality music with meaningful words. Excellent listen, very relaxing. Gets my vote every time
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars musical, 22 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: Ashes & Roses (Audio CD)
Excellent material and deep but soft lyrics, a change , refreshing and an easy listen. Mary continues to produce good and novel material
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