"In this world full of mass confusion, Either side of the battlelines, There are places where love is blooming... Come to mine." With those hopeful words intro-ing the song "Come to Mine," Beth Nielsen Chapman opens "Hearts of Glass," radiating an optimism and exuberance that is often all too hard to find. It's an irresistible entreaty, one that sets the mood for the entire effort and boding well for all that follows.
Indeed, throughout the course of her career, Chapman's maintained an agreeable persona, winning fans while avoiding the massive following that's clearly her due. That's a shame really; after nearly two dozen albums and a steady trajectory that dates back nearly 40 years, she deserves far more admiration than that which she's received so far.
Both effusive and assuring, it basks in a radiant glow, all sweet melodies and shimmering sentiments cast with upbeat expressions of optimism. The easy lope of "Enough For Me" is but one example, but even the slower songs, illuminated in an ambiance all their own, prove equally disarming. On several songs, she conveys a sound reminiscent of Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins, and yet, given Chapman's consistent high quality, she's clearly as capable as any of her contemporaries as well.
The more upbeat entries aside, it's a credit to Chapman's ability to inform and inspire that even her softer songs hit the mark, bathing her listeners in an effervescent glow. It's a consistent quality that remains intact throughout. Indeed, several of these tracks sound like standards. "You're Still My Valentine" rings with the same enduring emotion found in classics like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "Where or When." Still, Chapman emulates but never imitates, conveying her material with a heartfelt devotion that dutifully does her justice throughout.
Lee Zimmerman is a freelance writer based in Maryville, Tenn. He also expounds on music on his web site, Stories Beyond the Music - Americana Music Reviews, Interviews & Articles.