The entertainment world has gone kind of crazy. It is
possible for people like William Hung to get a record contract or Paris
Hilton to get a TV series, despite showing no discernable talent at what
they are doing. Just because they have reached a level of notoriety doesnt
mean that they deserve stardom.
Thats why it is so refreshing to see someone who is
willing to let her work do the speaking for her. Jen Chapin is someone who
is not going to use every cheap gimmick at her disposal to get noticed. In
fact, she is going in the opposite direction. In the press kit for her
terrific new album Linger, it only once mentions in passing that
Chapin is the daughter of popular 70s folk singer Harry Chapin, and that
mention was about how Jen continues her fathers charitable work for WHY
(World Hunger Year). (Jen was only 11-years-old in 1981, when her father
was killed by a speeding trucker on the New Jersey Turnpike while driving
home from a charity gig.)
It is admirable that Chapin is not playing up the
connection. Because her music is very different than her fathers and
surely can stand on its own. Chapin has a very distinct jazzy edge to her
self-penned tunes. She can experiment with styles and genres and feel
comfortable in all of them. Her voice sometimes sounds vaguely like Rickie
Lee Jones (which is a great compliment), but other times it can have the
feel of Suzanne Vega (another great compliment). In the long run, though,
you forget the comparisons and it is all Jen Chapin.
Til I Get There has a folky-jazz feel that shows that
Jen has soaked up the years of coffee-house playing in Greenwich Village.
City is an awe-inspiring ballad that shows surprising range. Numbers
is a swaying be-bop gem. Little Hours is an insanely catchy but diversely
structured tune that should become an AAA smash. "Manchild" is
a gorgeous tribute to a guy who just refuses to grow up.