Jen Chapin,
(Hybrid, 2004)

Linger is a completely addictive collection of songs written and performed by Long Island native Jen Chapin. Do yourself a favour and let yourself wallow in the lyrical intelligence and maturity of this woman's songwriting and charismatic vocal presence.

Chapin's songs invite her listener into a sensual, dazzlingly contemporary world, gritty with realism yet exuding artistic confidence, and screaming the word "quality" at you. Lyrically powerful and intelligent, the whole recording shimmers with an urban folkiness, tinged with a bluesy, jazzy sophistication. These songs speak powerfully of life in modern America, and Chapin certainly isn't afraid to tackle the tougher issues.

She laments the "Passive People" of the United States, tempering her political frustrations with restrained eloquence -- evidence that you can deliver your message subtly through music. In "Little Hours," she regrets our lack of space to relax, enjoy, maybe even breathe: "Do you like to linger, to twirl time round your finger, while the world tries to push you into tight little hours?" The pressure of the rat race comes under Chapin's scrutiny in "City" and also in the excellent "Numbers" -- magnificent lyrics there! "Hurry Up Sky" is an exquisite and lyrically sensitive tribute to the victims of 9/11. "TilI I Get There" and "Gold" reveal an inherent optimism.

Chapin writes beautifully and with some humour about the immaturity of our mystery "Manchild," and reveals a romantic lyricism in "Good At Love" and "I Could Fall," both very lovely songs. "Me Be Me" is downright sexy, with its hypnotic, sensual sway complementing a heady lyric about a woman luxuriating in a supremely confident love. Her lyrics here are "spiced up to a fault," in fact!

Rod Sherwood, Jen Chapin and Stephan Crump co-produced the album. The arrangements are excellent, and particularly notable is Crump's bass playing, which displays a deep empathy and, more importantly, sounds seriously cool. Drums and percussion are superb throughout, and all the additional instrumentation is well chosen, be it guitars, piano/keys, flute or sax. There isn't a single song that doesn't deserve its place on this outstanding album.

Chapin chairs the board of directors of World Hunger Year, the charity founded by her late father, the folk musician Harry Chapin. Every copy of Linger sold supports the work of this charity. She is currently working on her second album, likely to be titled Ready, and if Linger is to be Chapin's benchmark of quality, we're in for a seriously good listen. Chapin is a singer-songwriter who has something to say, knows exactly how to say it, and has a voice that delivers in all its American-accented glory!

by Debbie Koritsas
18 February 2006

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