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Reviews: Tim Hardin, 1 and 2; and Chapin Sisters, Two

Mr. Hardin looks so sad!

Tim Hardin
Tim Hardin 1 / Tim Hardin 2
[Raven CD [2010] [rec. 1966,1967])

Of the many singer-songwriters of the mid-1960s, Tim Hardin remains one of the most enigmatic. Although he continued to record until 1973, and performed sporadically until his death in 1980, Hardin’ s finest moments were clearly on these two albums, originally released on Verve Forecast. Backed by an eclectic assemblage of musicians including drummer Earl Palmer, John Sebastian on harmonica, bassist Felix Pappalardi, and jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton, Hardin laid down two albums worth of songs that are as good as any penned by his peers at the time. Hardin’ s gentle, husky voice, jazzy arrangements and soulful delivery made his versions of his songs like “If I Were A Carpenter,” “Reason to Believe” and “Misty Roses” the definitive performances of those oft-covered tunes. Other classics include “The Lady Came From Baltimore,” Hardin’s unsparing depiction of his long-term relationship with actress Susan Morss, and “Hang On To a Dream,” which was subsequently covered by progressive and psychedelic groups like the Nice and Echo and the Bunnymen. Sadly, Hardin struggled throughout his career with depression and heroin addiction (succumbing to an overdose in 1980), but these tracks capture him at his creative peak. In addition to the first two albums, the Raven reissue includes 8 bonus tracks drawn from Hardin’ s subsequent two albums and live performances.

—Michael Parrish (San Jose, CA)

The Chapin Sisters
[Lake Bottom (2010)]

Inheriting the storytelling skills and affinity for folk-pop balladry of their father, Tom Chapin, and late uncle, Harry, the Chapin Sisters—Abigail and Lily—continue to stake their own ground with Two. Recorded in a studio in the woods of rural New Jersey, and co-produced with alt-rockers Louie Stephens (Rooney) and Jesse Lee (Gang Gang Dance), the sisters’ second full-length album takes a further step from their 2008 debut, “Lake Bottom.” Despite the absence of half-sister, Jessica, who took a leave of absence before the album was recorded, and the addition of keyboards and electric guitars, though, the Chapins’ sound remains acoustically skeletal with sibling harmonies as light as the blowing wind. Set to mostly slow tempos, songs reach into the darkest depths, reflecting angst-filled imagery of sorrow and heartbreak.

—Craig Harris (Chicopee, MA)


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