Living room shows are a phenomenon in the folk-music
world where groups of fans put together money to hire folk singers to do
personal concerts for small audiences in people's homes. It's a
charming, old-fashioned idea and a fantastic way to get to see an artist in
a more intimate setting. Some of the biggest names in folk play living
However, upon hearing of this CD, I was shocked to
think that a legendary pop singer/songwriter like Carole King was doing them
as well. After all, she has written some of the biggest hits of the
rock era, such as "One Fine Day," "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman,"
"You've Got a Friend," "The Loco-Motion," "Will You Still Love Me
Tomorrow?," "Take Good Care Of My Baby," "I'm Into Something Good,"
"Pleasant Valley Sunday" and dozens of others. Tapestry, her
1971 debut album as a performer, was the biggest selling album ever for
several years in the 70s, before eventually being eclipsed by Frampton
Comes Alive, Saturday Night Fever and Thriller. Even
on her last live album a few years ago, she still had enough rock cachet to
have Slash as a guest guitarist. King doesn't tour all that often —
it was hard to believe instead she was playing in homes in New England.
Turns out she wasn't. These live performances
were not recorded in people's living rooms — unless there is someone living
at the Greek Theater in LA, the Auditorium Theater in Chicago and the Cape
Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis, Massachusetts. However as she explained in
the liner notes for the album, King had been to many living room shows and
wanted to try to capture that intimacy in a concert setting. Since she
can't go to the living rooms, King brings her living room with her, the
stage set is a homey space with bookshelves, lamps, plants and desks.
Obviously you can't see a stage set on a live album,
but King's noticeable comfort actually does help to provide that homey intimacy
that she was striving for. On some songs, King's voice sounds a little ragged,
but this is a nice, easy-paced exploration of King's back catalogue.
Backed by an unobtrusive pair of guitarist/bassists,
the spotlight is on King's piano, her vocals and her always spectacular
songwriting. Daughter Louise Goffin sits in for a spirited duet of
"Where You Lead I Will Follow" (a variation of her Tapestry classic
"Where You Lead" which was recorded as the theme for the TV series
Gilmore Girls.). Also standing out are a wonderfully smoky
rendition of "Jazzman," a spare and vibrant version of "It's Too Late" and a
medley of her sixties classics.
So it turns out you can get Carole King playing these
songs in your living room, after all, with this disk.