You’d be forgiven for not realising the successes of Beth Nielsen Chapman since she’s never reached the coveted number one spot with her own recordings. Nevertheless her songwriting successes are numerous for other artists and in light of this she’s finally reclaimed the songs, launching an album of these numbers aptly titled Uncovered earlier this year. With the likes of Faith Hill, Willie Nelson and Lorrie Morgan working with, or recording versions of Chapman’s songs, her influence spreads far and wide.
In turn, tonight becomes a bit like a greatest hits show, and the successes just keep on rolling. That’s not to say it’s been all highs however, and the haunting Pray written just after the passing of her father couples with Simple Things (written just after her own rounds of chemo) reminds us of the fragility of the world. Elsewhere, One In A Million offers a welcome reprieve from the depressing nature of some of her songs. Later, we’re treated to a couple of numbers from her more recent children’s album (The Mighty Sky) with Test, Re-test and Verify and Rockin’ Little Neutron Star both serving to highlight her capacity to defy genre constraints.
This Kiss lacks the polished sheen of Hill’s version, and Meet Me Halfway sees Chapman falter with the ending, but this doesn’t dampen the night, instead highlighting her massive stage presence. The high point comes in the form of Maybe That’s All It Takes, which is stripped back with Ruth Trimble and 2/3’s of support band Red Sky July offering vocal harmonies. Elsewhere it’s the haunting Sand and Water, penned after the passing of her husband, which really hits a nerve and leaves many of the crowd searching for a tissue.
It becomes clear by the end of the night that it’s Chapman’s ability to encapsulate both love and loss into 3 minute montages that is her strong point, leaving me only to hope she doesn’t have to suffer much more of the latter to continue her success.