Chapin Sisters on WNYC’s Soundcheck
(First Published on Blogcritics)
The October 19th podcast of WNYC’s Soundcheck features an in studio performance and interview with the Chapin Sisters, Abigail and Lily, in support of their new album, Two and their appearance at the CMJ Music Marathon. The New York based marathon which runs through October 23rd claims to host over twelve hundred artists from all over the world, and includes panel discussions and films as well as musical performances.
Host John Schaefer queried the duo about their famous musical family: their father singer/songwriter Tom Chapin is a three time Grammy Award winner, grandfather Jim was a jazz drummer and singer/songwriter Harry Chapin is their uncle. Their original band had been a trio including sister Jessica who has, according to the Sister’s website, taken a leave of absence to spend time with her new baby. Born in Brooklyn, the women moved to Los Angeles before their first album, Lake Bottom LP, a critically acclaimed album which unfortunately, again according to the band’s website, is unavailable at present. Turns out however it is available on Amazon.
The interview was light on the discussion of the band’s music, although they did mention their interest in shape note singing and Gregorian chants as an influence on their harmonies. This may be what gives some of their music the haunting (spooky was the word he used) quality, host Schaefer felt in some of their songs. Myself, I would prefer to describe their harmonic blends as ethereal. He talked about their sound as channeling something of the weird folk sound, a sound that does seem to characterize many of the cuts on the new album.
The podcast, available on iTunes and also on the http://www.wnyc.org/shows/soundcheck/2010/oct/19/“, includes three performances from the album. After opening with the bluesy “Palm Tree,” they do an acoustic version of “Left All Alone” and end with their acapella version of the hymn like “Sweet Light.” If you haven’t yet had a chance to hear the Chapin Sisters, the podcast is a good opportunity to become acquainted with them.