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Published: 2008/12/22
by Pat Buzby

Time Past & Time Passing – Michael Chapman

Ragtime

In the mid-‘60s, England had a large supply of folkies with impressive acoustic guitar chops, craggy voices, and dark, sometimes druggy views of life. Some burned out, while a few came to America and became pop stars, or stayed in Europe and became folk institutions. A few have chosen a path of quiet persistence and still surface now and then on indie labels. Michael Chapman fits in this category.

Throughout this CD, calm fingerpicking supports a weather-beaten voice. A similar contrast appears in Chapmans lyrics, which are alternately easygoing and tough, dark and optimistic. You know I dont scare easy/But I do get scared, from That Time of Night, is a good two-line summary. The most striking track, Little Mollys Dream, is a long, ominous meditation on A minor rather than the childlike reverie one might expect.

Although mostly acoustic, Chapman plugs in for a few tracks such as Faheys Flag and Memphis in Winter, whose titles hint accurately at what to expect. Vanity & Pride closes the mostly plain-spoken disc on an enigmatic note.

This CD wont make the case for Chapman as one who should have become a star or institution. However, it proves that he deserves another chance to surface. With another guitarist from his era, Davey Graham, having passed away the week this CD arrived in the mail, its clear that we shouldnt take for granted the chance to hear from these ’60s characters.

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