Beth Nielsen Chapman - Look
Chris Helsby 31/05/2004
Beth Nielsen Chapman is a female singer-songwriter whose music swings between radio-friendly single-stuff that's a bit like Alanis Morrissette and more out-there, country and Latin tunes. The sleeve is covered with exactly the sort of wishy-washy Briget Jones-style pictures that you'd expect, but the music ain't half bad.
Mentioning Alanis is a bit unfair - there are only a couple of tunes on here that really resemble her type of MOR radio fodder, and they are more like the (much more interesting) acoustic-remake of her Jagged Little Pill album that she has done recently than the bland alt-rock ballads that we couldn't get away from in the late-nineties.
Beth Orton is a better comparison - the country stylings are definitely a good reference point and the subject matter is closer to what Orton managed; way more open, raw and just more heartfelt and believable than the million other singers who'd fall into that demographic.
Then there is some really weird, forward-thinking stuff - mad Latino rhythms, bongos, multi-layered vocals coming at you from all over the place. Stuff that you might expect to crop-up somewhere on an album like this but it's still a surprise (and a good one) when it happens.
Look is an album that is structured in the most predictable way - a good, original singer who sounds like she is being shaped into something less avant-garde and more radio-friendly, something that will shift some units. Which is a shame, 'cause it's the more out-there stuff on here that is definitely the more interesting. Still, looks good for the future.