After five decades of recording and touring, veteran British songwriter and guitar sage Michael Chapman has finally made what he calls his “American record,” and the aptly titled 50 now stands as his late career masterwork, a moving legacy statement by a legend. Backed by a collaborative group of friends and acolytes—Steve Gunn (who also produced), Nathan Bowles (Pelt), James Elkington (Jeff Tweedy), Jason Meagher (No-Neck Blues Band), Jimi SeiTang (Rhyton), and fellow UK songwriting luminary Bridget St John—Chapman tears into both bold renderings of new songs and radical reinterpretations of material from his revered catalog, the crack band adeptly scaling the same rarefied sonic heights of classic Harvest albums like Fully Qualified Survivor, guided by a true survivor’s instinct, wit, and wisdom. The result is a sublime chiaroscuro self-portrait, more shadow than light, as an invigorated Chapman wrestles with weighty themes of travel, memory, mortality, and redemption, his world-weary whispers assuming the incandescent power of prophecy. Deluxe package includes tip-on jacket, printed inner sleeve, lyrics, and download card with two bonus tracks.
A master guitarist and songwriter ... The godfather of experimental rock guitar … Calls to mind the fabled intricacy of Pentangle heavy-hitters John Renbourn and Bert Jansch, the muscular authority of Jimmy Page, and the maverick edge of Roy Harper, without once compromising its own indisputably Chapman-esque character. Anyone who thinks Jim O’Rourke was the first to combine rock structures, world-weary vocals, American Primitive-tinged guitar instrumentals, and avant-garde noise interludes is in for a shock. – MOJO
A world-class songwriter. Terrifically unpredictable … beyond any genre tag. – Pitchfork
He shreds on acoustic guitar the way Kandinsky wails with a paintbrush. – Thurston Moore
Acute emotional reporting in a gruff seaman-poet's voice, supported by the quiet ingenious strength of his acoustic-guitar motifs. – Rolling Stone
A master … a distinctive talent who stands comparisons to John Fahey. – Uncut
The sound of a real songwriter who's lived a real life and all that entails. – Q