Cèleigh Chapman @ the Mint, 9 July

[full disclosure: Cèleigh and her band are friends of mine]

A good country singer is hard to find.  These days, anyone with a certified Voice is more interested in the alchemy of turning those golden pipes into something pocket-sized and bankable than they are with sending shivers down the spine.  So when you happen upon a voice like that of Cèleigh Chapman, who sang for an appreciative audience Wednesday night at The Mint, you hold on tight.
Chapman’s voice – imagine Dolly Parton with a little more Bakersfield grit – is her strongest asset, though she seems to just be learning how strong it really is.  Her set began with a series of originals that, while certainly pleasant enough, found Chapman holding her voice back, afraid to take chances.  She’s really better suited to the dirty-soul side of country music than the pop side; her voice needs to be given freedom to do what it pleases, whether it’s to scream or to pout, as that’s where her music becomes its most compelling.
It wasn’t until the forget-you breakup song “Paris,” when the rest of her band deferred to brothers Joel and Isaac Watters (guitar and fiddle, respectively), that Chapman’s power as a songwriter (and not just a singer) became evident.  This is one of those songs whose chorus is chilling enough on the page – “I hope you stay in Paris / ‘Cause no one loves you there / I hope you stay in Paris / Till no one loves you here.”  But when Joel’s delicate fingerpicking and Isaac’s moaning fiddle danced with Chapman’s high lonesome, she hit her stride.
When Chapman isn’t afraid to let her voice do the talking, she makes ghost music, country of the highest order; it’s just a matter of her being brave enough to die in order to get there.

mp3: Cèleigh Chapman – If I Should Fall Behind (Bruce Springsteen)

One Response to “Cèleigh Chapman @ the Mint, 9 July”
  1. John says:

    Hey all,

    If you like Celeigh, come check out some members of her band play with their Funk group PINOT at the Key Club this Thursday. They’re opening up for the world famous funk collective Lettuce (lettucefunk.com).

    Here’s the info, this is the place to be on Thursday night!

    Pinot opening for Trombone Shorty and Lettuce (Headliner)
    July 17th, 2008 doors @ 7:30, we’ll start around 8

    The Key Club
    9039 Sunset Boulevard
    West Hollywood, CA 90069
    310 274 5800

    Tickets are $20 at the door, $18 advance through the club and $15 advance through Pinot.

    To buy tix from us either email tickets@pinotfunk.com or go to our site pinotfunk.com and follow the paypal link

    Thanks, see ya there!

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