Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mary Chapin Carpenter, "The Way I Feel"

On her current album, The Age of Miracles, Mary Chapin Carpenter delves into some heavy lyrical material, but closes the album with a lighthearted tune about finding freedom on the open road.

The majority of the song's appeal lies in its pleasant melody, aided by Mary's soft laid-back vocal delivery, and backed by typical Carpenter-style folk-country production.  This is not the kind of song that you rock out to on the interstate. (If you're looking for "Life Is a Highway, Part 2," look elsewhere) Still, the slow and mellow tempo is well-suited to the carefree mood that the song creates.  If you're just looking for some simple background music to listen to during your morning drive to work, "The Way I Feel" will fit the bill perfectly.

But wait - who is this song coming from again?  This is Mary Chapin Carpenter, the same respected singer-songwriter who brought a new sophistication to country radio during her 90s heyday.  She is renowned for her clever and introspective lyrics that remain relevant today.  The lyrics of "The Way I Feel" do not measure up to her previous standards.  There's just nothing particularly interesting or special about lines such as "When I'm all alone on a midnight highway/ There's nothing like two hands on the wheel."

It's not necessarily bad, and it does have a pleasant sound to it, but when one's songwriting catalog includes timeless classics like "He Thinks He'll Keep Her," the expectations are a little bit higher.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)