Black Music Matters Festival

The Chapin Sisters

Two – 2010 (Lake Bottom)

Reviewed by Jason MacNeil

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CDs by The Chapin Sisters

For the duo known as The Chapin Sisters, it's in the genes. Their father is Tom Chapin, and their uncle was the late Harry Chapin. But on their second release, Abigail and Lily Chapin offer a haunting, spooky atmosphere in the vein of Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings on the opening Sweet Light. Here the vocals steer the song with guitars lightly accenting the tune.

Dark and a tad dreary in terms of tone and yet quite alluring, The Chapin Sisters shine on the moody I Can Feel, which gently saunters along before closing with some Sarah McLachlan-ish melodic touches. They also have a slight dreamy quality on the tender Paradise" with terribly sweet harmonies.

The first big miscue though is the percussion-driven Digging A Hole that sounds too artsy or airy for its own good. It also seems to indicate that the less is more framework or structure is far more effective with the sisters. This is also found later on with Birds In My Garden, which features some lush orchestration and flourishes.

Fortunately Digging A Hole gives way to a lovely,'50s inspired slow dance ballad/waltz called Palm Tree, a song very few could improve upon. And it's that performance which seems to set up the remainder of the album rather well with Boo Hoo that is a happy, chipper ditty with some jazz-inspired deliveries. The song might be something that Cassandra Wilson would toy with at some point.

To use a phrase from their song Roses In Winter, when The Chapin Sisters "take it easy," the results are extremely enjoyable.