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Carpenter brings the backyard feeling

The Ford, West Hollywood, Cal., June 20, 2022

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

With its Hollywood hills backdrop, Mary Chapin Carpenter's concert felt a little like a casual backyard gathering. With her comforting, but wise, singing and songwriting approach, it was a night that sure felt like home. She made us all feel like we were among friends.

Carpenter kept her between song patter to a minimum, as there was a hard venue curfew she didn't want to miss. Nevertheless, her acoustic ode to John Jennings ("D-35") found Carpenter waxing nostalgic about her late collaborator, while "Halley Came to Jackson" allowed her the chance to praise Eudora Welty's writing. Carpenter's solo acoustic portion also featured the lovingly detailed "This Shirt."

As with most artists, it'd had been a few years since Carpenter mounted a cross-country tour. Maybe that explains her need for a music stand with song lyrics by her side. Written help or no help, though, Carpenter sings with such a calm, comforting motherly voice, we listened intently from start to end. For variety's sake, though, Carpenter mixed up her set with upbeat songs, such as the closing Cajun strut of "Down at the Twist and Shout" and the cocky "I Feel Lucky."

John Craigie opened with a funny (and sometimes serious) short set of enjoyable singer/songwriter songs. "Let's Talk This Over When We're Sober," written during the pandemic, addressed lockdown issues. He displayed his knowledge of music history with "Woodstock Baby," about a baby born during the Woodstock festival with plenty to brag about, and "I Wrote Mr. Tambourine Man," about a drunkard Craigie once met in a New Orleans bar who insisted he (not Bob Dylan) wrote "Mr. Tambourine Man."

One gets the impression Carpenter is the type of performer that would gladly invite guests over for a show in her own backyard. Tonight, though, she brought that sweet backyard feeling to us, and we just didn't want to leave.



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