August 10, 2006

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Jen Chapin, Ready
Hybrid Records, 2006

Strikingly average cappuccino-folk like this is the reason Beth Orton was invented, not that Chapin doesn't hold out a tin cup for any encouraging comparisons here and there. As happens in most other genres, unpluggie can't-dos live off formulaic ambiance barely noticed by fans who lose themselves in shiny lyric sheets, and Chapin is a stellar example of such musical plainness, stumbling in the footsteps of her father, Harry, who contributed the dentist-office classic "Cats in the Cradle" to a civilization that probably doesn't need much reminding that fathers in general are preoccupied with seemingly unimportant junk, although some of his vivid storytelling (or sitar, Vishnu be praised) would have gone a long way in helping his daughter achieve something greater than this smarmy paean to upper-middle-class repression made of Things She'd Say To Mr. Wrong If She Had The Slightest Semblance of Backbone. The abyss is avoided through only a couple of strong tracks, one of them "To the New," whose only deformity is a hippy-dippy art-house fugue that would leave even Joan Baez cackling. C

— Eric. W. Saeger


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