Michael Chapmanhas premiered his latest single “Memphis in Winter” viaNoisey, who describe the track as having “an untethered bite, with Chapman’s old, weathered voice rising above Gunn and his band’s ramshackle arrangements.” Taken from his anticipated album50, outJanuary 20th on Paradise of Bachelors, the hellish travelogue approaches a pure distillation of the perfect Chapman song, with its dark lyrics and mesmerizing, elastic instrumental passages.
‘’I wrote ‘Memphis in Winter’after an event in the winter of ’99. I was driving across Arkansas trying to stay ahead of a blizzard and ended up pulling into a motel in downtown Memphis. That’s when it really hit, forcing the homeless, the hobos, and the dispossessed into town in a desperate attempt to keep warm. They were failing badly, dying in shop doorways, and no one seemed to care. Lots of crazy people with guns and not a great place to be at that moment in time. We holed up until the storm passed – and moved on.” – Michael Chapman
50is Chapman’s first album in years with a full band, assembled around the versatile core group of friend and producer Steve Gunn (who also contributes guitar, drums, and vocals); Nathan Bowles (drums, banjo, keys, vocals; Pelt, Black Twig Pickers); James Elkington (guitar, piano; Jeff Tweedy, Richard Thompson), and Jimy SeiTang (bass, synthesizers, vocals; Rhyton, Stygian Stride). Michael’s dear friend and fellow UK songwriting luminary Bridget St John furnished her gorgeous, shivering vocals, a dramatic counterpoint to Chapman’s road-worn gruffness. Gunn’s touring bassist and longtime engineer Jason Meagher (No-Neck Blues Band) recorded and mixed at hisBlack Dirt Studio in Westtown, New York. The inherently collaborative nature of 50 shows in its ambition and execution; never has Michael ceded such generous control to other musicians, and he sounds both invigorated and liberated as a result.
With 50, Chapman faces mortality with guitar in hand, and endures. It’s the unguarded sound of Orpheus descending, and returning to tell his story.
Michael Chapman’s50is due out January 20th on Paradise of Bachelors. The deluxe LP package includes tip-on jacket, printed inner sleeve, lyrics, and download card with two bonus tracks; the CD features a gatefold jacket, lyrics, and the two non-LP bonus tracks.