The Things That We Are Made Of, the new full-length album by renowned and beloved singer, songwriter and performer Mary Chapin Carpenter, will be released May 6 on Lambent Light Records via Thirty Tigers (pre-order). Produced by 2016 Producer of the Year Grammy-nominee Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton), the album features eleven new songs, including the lead track “Something Tamed Something Wild,” which premiered yesterday at Rolling Stone and can now be heard/shared via Soundcloud. Of the song, Rolling Stone praises, “…beautifully sums up where she’s been and sets the stage for what’s yet to come…’Something Tamed Something Wild’ and indeed the entire new album finds the songwriter at her most thoughtful and also at times sweetly whimsical, perfectly capturing the buoyant spirit of her early successes and also serving as a reminder that she remains one of the most grounded, sentient songwriters of her generation.”
In celebration of the release, Carpenter will return to D.C.’s legendary Wolf Trap for a special performance on July 2. Tickets will go on-sale on Saturday, March 19. Additional tour dates to be announced shortly.
The Things That We Are Made Of was recorded at Nashville’s Sound Emporium and Low Country Sound studios during the spring and summer of 2016. In addition to Carpenter (vocals, electric/acoustic guitar), the album features Cobb (electric/acoustic/gut string guitar, percussion, Moog, Mellotron), Annie Clements (bass), Brian Allen (bass), Chris Powell (drums, percussion), Mike Webb (piano, B3 organ, reed organ, Mellotron, Fender Rhodes) and Jimmy Wallace (piano, B3 organ).
Of the album, Carpenter comments, “Working with Dave felt great from the first day of our sessions. He is always willing to try something new, believes that ‘yes’ is the only answer, and surrounds himself with wonderfully talented and generous musicians; by the end of the project, I felt as if I was a part of a new family.”
Cobb adds, “I wanted to work with Mary Chapin because very few people can cut with words like she can. She’s an absolute poet and legend. I was so happy to collaborate on this album together.”
Over the course of her acclaimed career, Carpenter has recorded 14 albums and sold over 14 million records. With hits like ”Passionate Kisses” and “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her,” she has won five Grammy Awards (with 15 nominations), two CMA awards, two Academy of Country Music awards for her vocals and is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Most recently, in 2014, Carpenter released her acclaimed debut orchestral album, Songs From The Movie. Arranged and co-produced by six-time Grammy winner Vince Mendoza, the record is comprised of ten previously recorded compositions including “Between Here and Gone” and “Come On Come On.” Since it’s release, Carpenter has performed alongside the New York Philharmonic, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the London Concert Orchestra, the L.A. Philharmonic and the National Symphony Orchestra among many others.
Citing as inspiration such seminal film composers as Elmer Bernstein and Thomas Newman, and contemporary symphonic composers like Tobias Picker and Morten Lauridsen, Carpenter had long imagined this project but it wasn’t until she had the chance to work with Mendoza that it came to fruition.
The result reprises ten of Carpenter’s songs in Mendoza’s distinctively beautiful and cinematic arrangements – thus the album title that gathers them together – to give the listener the continuum of a film soundtrack, albeit an imaginary one.
The album was recorded at London’s legendary AIR Studios, with a 63-piece orchestra, and a 15-voice choir. “Part of the challenge of this new musical setting was to find the right approach to singing each song,” Carpenter says. “Singing with an orchestra is very different from singing with a band. I had to learn to ride the enormous wave of sound an orchestra produces but not over sing at the same time. Finding a quiet voice while still conveying strength was the way in.”
From “Come On Come On” to “On And On It Goes” to “I Am A Town” and “Goodnight America,” the record finds this multi-platinum album selling, multi-Grammy winner, two-time CMA Female Vocalist, and member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame still breaking new ground, giving us a record unlike any of her others. “I grew up in a house where film soundtracks and classical music played constantly because my mother loved them so,” Carpenter says, as a way to explain how she came to this project. “Recording at AIR Studios in London was magical and working with Vince as he transformed my songs with his arrangements was an extraordinary artistic experience. I feel so fortunate to have been given this chance to do something so different from what I have done in the past and what I expect to do in the future.”
That level of excitement and fearless creativity has been a common thread throughout Mary Chapin Carpenter’s two-and-a-half-decade recording career, during which she’s sold more than 13 million records and developed a remarkably loyal and devoted international fan base.
Born in Princeton, New Jersey, Carpenter began playing guitar and writing songs early in life, and was playing her songs in D.C. clubs before she was out of her teens. Word of Carpenter’s talents eventually reached Nashville, winning her a deal with Columbia Records, which released her 1987 debut album, Hometown Girl.
Her debut disc set the stage for the success of 1989’s State of the Heart and 1990’s Shooting Straight in the Dark, each of which produced four Top 20 hits, including the Grammy-winning smash “Down at the Twist and Shout.” Those releases were followed by the massive commercial breakthrough of 1992’s Come On Come On, which was certified quadruple platinum and yielded no less than seven charting singles.
More success followed with such albums as the platinum Stones in the Road, A Place in the World, Time* Sex* Love* and Between Here and Gone. Carpenter moved to Rounder/Zoë in time for 2007’s Grammy-nominated The Calling, which was followed by the seasonally themed Come Darkness Come Light: 12 Songs of Christmas, the Grammy-nominated The Age of Miracles and Ashes and Roses.
Along the way, Carpenter has won five Grammy Awards, was named the Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year in 1992 and 1993 and in 2012 was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Her compositions have also been covered by a diverse assortment of artists including Joan Baez, Wynonna Judd, Cyndi Lauper, Trisha Yearwood, Maura O’Connell, Mary Black and Dianne Reeves and has also collaborated, on record and/or on stage, with the likes of Joan Baez, Shawn Colvin, Dolly Parton, the Indigo Girls and Tony Bennett.
Following the January 2014 debut of the album with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the prestigious Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, Carpenter will appear as a guest with orchestras in the U.S. and the U.K. throughout 2014.