When she finds herself in times of trouble, Mary Chapin Carpenter turns to the fresh air of her native Blue Ridge mountains and the musical counsel of Sister Rosetta Tharpe for comfort. Given the calm assurance of her Celtic Connections performance, Carpenter quite possibly fulfils the same brief for others, offering up a couple of opening numbers of “hope and resilience to counterbalance the freakshow” of domestic and international politics.
Mary Chapin Carpenter ***
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
She has been well served over the decades by her mostly soothing, inoffensive rootsy pop, though her motley but adaptable band kicked things up a notch on the likes of Shut Up and Kiss Me, gliding seamlessly from downhome acoustic guitars to a spot of axe heroics, while blending the contrasting timbres of grand piano and a basic bluegrass drumkit.
Carpenter has found older songs such as Stones In The Road fit once more with the times and the country blues strut of I Feel Lucky could certainly bear the weight of a Donald Trump cameo appearance.
Speaking of cameos, her guests Julie Fowlis and Donegal veterans Altan, both of whom had added considerable value to the concert with their short but sweet support sets, were called back to the stage, along with dobro maestro Jerry Douglas, fresh into town in preparation for Transatlantic Sessions, for a self-styled “slapdash” massed rendition of He Thinks He’ll Keep Her which was anything but.