Album: Mary Chapin Carpenter

Between Here and Gone, Columbia
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The Independent Culture

Carpenter has always specialised in acute examinations of the effects of time passed and passing, and Between Here and Gone is no different. The protagonists of these songs are all either moving on, in a hurry to get somewhere, do something, be somebody; or they're wondering where their dreams went, why their children ran away, why they've been left on the shelf. In most cases, it's a lose/lose situation: they're either pinned like butterflies by the past, or vainly racing to escape the pin. "I'm just passing through, I am therefore I go," acknowledges the heroine of "Goodnight America" as she traverses the country. The track that most recalls the signature Carpenter style of ironic resignation is "Beautiful Racket", another reflection on maturity and the gaining of wisdom, in which she regretfully observes how "You used to have dreams of setting the world on fire/ All you want now is peace of mind", but ultimately accepts there is no shame in that. Set to sleek country arrangements marked by outstanding fiddle and dobro fills, these songs are up to Carpenter's high standards, with one instant classic in "My Heaven", her depiction of a sort of Zen paradise: "You can look back on your life and lot/ But it can't matter what you're not/ By the time you're here, we're all we've got".