Tonight at The Queen's Hall saw the welcome return of one of the most gifted songwriters of her generation to Edinburgh, twice Grammy-nominated, Nashville-based Beth Nielsen Chapman.
Beth Nielsen Chapman has a new album out for 2018, “Hearts of Glass” (Beth’s 13th solo album), so this show was a mixture of songs from this album, back catalogue solo and collaborative work and some classics that are best known through other artists recording her work (often requesting songs to be written for them).
Writers of any creative media so often find a way to express through their work feelings and emotions that somehow through some indefinable “creative process” act as a path out of their own personal trials and tribulations, or an insight into something causing problems in their life. Beth Nielsen Chapman is such a writer, and some of the songs in tonight’s set are responses to times of loss and personal issues. Not only has the “creative process” helped the writer in these works to get through some tough times, but also the words and music have so often provided comfort, hope and maybe a little inner peace to many other people listening to them. To be able to do that is a rare gift.
Beth Nielsen Chapman has written songs for some of the musical “greats” and there are a few songs on this new album that have been “re-claimed” including – “Old Church Hymns & Nursery Rhymes” (recorded by Waylon Jennings) and “If My World Didn't Have You” (recorded by Willie Nelson). Also on this album a wonderful song with perhaps one of the longest creative gestation periods in songwriting history (18 years), the haunting “Epitaph for Love”. Hearts of Glass is a fine album with some wonderful songs on it that clearly not only show the work of a gifted writer, but in songs like “Life Holds On”, “You’re Still My Valentine” and “Rage on Rage”, a writer not afraid to draw on their own personal experiences and expose that part of themselves to their audience, and that is always a brave thing for anyone to do.
Earlier songs in the set included “Happy Girl”, “Come To Mine” and of course “This Kiss” which many people will probably associate with the recording by Faith Hill.
Songs of loss, bereavement and difficult times may not sound like a happy night’s entertainment to some people, but in the hands of a writer and performer of the calibre of Beth Nielsen Chapman they are uplifting experiences and many of these songs have given so many people hope and support just when they needed it in their lives. The other side of the dark songs tonight though was the recurring theme of love and how above everything else, love can get you through anything.
A nice welcome surprise too for the evening was Scotland’s own Phil Cunningham joining Beth and her band on stage for some music.
Opening the show for Beth tonight, and also in her band, was singer songwriter Ruth Trimble with songs from her last album “Before the Rain” and some earlier songs. Like Beth Nielsen Chapman, Ruth is a writer who often draws on some of her darkest moments in her work to create songs that are not only personal to her, but also mean a lot to her people. Working closely with a writer like Beth Nielsen Chapman is a wonderful opportunity for a writer like Ruth to learn from, and be inspired to even more heights in her own work.
Review by Tom King
Beth Nielsen Chapman
The Queen's Hall - Queen's Hall
2 hours 30 minutes
Country: United States
Group: Beth Nielsen Chapman