Album: Sand And Water

CD cover picture From Warner - Reprise Records

Many of the best songwriters have an ability to express musically their deepest personal feelings; others have a flair for creating pop music that resonates with a wide audience, Beth Nielsen Chapman is one of those uncommonly gifted artists who can do both at once.

Beth Nielsen Chapman's third Reprise album, Sand And Water, stands outs as an important collection of work. From the powerfully moving title song, "Sand and water", to the celebratory, "Happy girl", Beth paints on a canvas of real life experience a profound insight into human experience as well as displaying an innate sense of melody and form.

Written in the wake of the untimely death of her husband, Ernest Chapman, Sand And Water, spans the range of emotions that are encompassed in the extraordinary experience of moving through grief to rediscovery of life. It was in the midst of a 1993 tour that Beth's husband was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma and given only a short time to live. "The way that he used his time was remarkable", she recalls. "He came to accept his death, and allowed for being present in every moment. So in the midst of this great sorrow, there came time of joy for life's simplest things".

"During the first year following Ernest's death", Beth explained, "The only time I could connect to my grief was when I was writing songs. As a culture, we are fearful of death", she says, "but in that unbelievable moment when my husband's spirit left his body, I became aware of a powerful essence of grace which seemed to override even my sadness".

Beth The songs of Sand And Water, in which she confronts her experience head on, are the result of trusting in life's process and believing in that grace. Joining Beth on her journey into this realm of intangibles are such premiere guest player as Bonnie Raitt, who sings and palys electric slide dobro on the fun and funcky "Heads up for the wrecking ball", and singer Michael McDonald, who teams with Beth on the exquisitely beautiful acoustic duet, "Seven shades of blue".

Working with and/or writing for eminent players, producers and artists has been Beth's stock in trade. In 1980, Beth recordedher debut album, "Hearing It First", which was produced by Muscle Shoals legend Barry Beckett. From there she expanded as a professional songwriter, relocating to Nashville and writing for such diverse artists as Waylon Jennings and German chanteuse, Ute Lemper. She also hit #1 with songs performed by Willie Nelson ("Nothin' I can do about it now"), Tanya Tucker ("Strong enough to bend"), Alabama ("Here we are"), and Lorrie Morgan ("Five Minutes"). She wrote Top 10 hit songs for Trisha Yearwood ("You say you will" and "Down on my knees"), Highway 101 ("All the reasons why"), and Don Williams ("Maybe that's all it takes") among others.

In 1990, Beth made her Reprise Records debut with her self-titled album that spawned four Top 20 A/C hits, three of which went Top 10: "Walk my way", "All I have", and "I keep coming back to you". Beth went on to join Bonnie Raitt and Rod Stewart as one of only eighteen artists to have earned at least four Top 30 singles on the A/C chart in 1992, according to "Radio and Records" Magazine. Her follow-up album, "You Hold The Key" (1993) (rated one of the five best albums of the year by CD Review) was a top 10 AAA and NAC hit, containing two Top 10 singles. "In the time it takes" (a duet with Paul Carrack) and "The moment you were mine".

Having topped the charts dozen of times, both as a solo artist and as a writer, Beth long ago eased into the comfort zone when it comes to success. Now she's back with her first new album in four years, writing songs of greater depth,clarity, and ineffable beauty than ever before.

It isn't necessary to have experienced tragedy in order to value what Beth Nielsen Chapman has accomplished on Sand And Water.It is only necessary to be a member of the human family. "All alone I came into this world", she sings on the title track, "All alone I will someday die. Solid stone is just sand and water, baby. Sand and water and a million years gone by". With her music, Beth touches the very core of life's elusive meaning.

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