Single Review: Mary Chapin Carpenter, “The Way I Feel”

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September 9, 2010

A song about finding liberation on the open road shouldn’t put you in danger of falling asleep at the wheel.

I don’t know what’s going on with Mary Chapin Carptenter.  She made my favorite album of all-time, Stones in the Road, and it wasn’t particularly upbeat.  But the songs were amazingly good. I’m still learning new things from that album a full sixteen years after its release.

With a singer-songwriter cut from the folk cloth, there’s not much left to work with if the song itself isn’t that great.  “The Way I Feel” isn’t that great, much like most of what Carpenter’s recorded for her last few albums.

So ultimately, what’s most disappointing about this song  is that its  mediocrity doesn’t disappoint me. I fully expected it.

Written by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Grade:  C

Listen: The Way I Feel

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  1. Travis in VIrginiaNo Gravatar says:

    This is one of my favorite songs on her new album and I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I 100 percent disagree with this review. I also like her last few albums!

  2. ZackNo Gravatar says:

    I could never review a Mary Chapin Carpenter without bias. She is one of the only artists (Carrie Underwood & Sugarland come close), who’ve I’ve loved almost all their output [singles & albums]. And Carpenter only has a few exceptions (I’ve only her collection from Shooting Straight In The Dark and onwards).

    Personally, I like this song, but I do find it lacking something that her best material has had… I love Carpenter because she relaxes me with her music, so I guess I wouldn’t be an impartial reviewer for this song, haha.

    But I see where you’re coming from, Kevin; if she wants to record this genre, then she needs an extra oomph to her music.

  3. ZackNo Gravatar says:

    *a Mary Chapin Carpenter single

  4. JohnNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve got to agree with the other commenters that I really like this song. The tough thing in comparing what she is recording now to Stones or Come On Come On is that those were both master classes in a making a country album with some depth. That’s not what she’s after anymore, and to fault her because it’s not like that isn’t a completely fair comparison. Having said that, I completely agree with Zack about the single lacking the oomph necessary to compete at radio.

  5. JohnNo Gravatar says:

    I should clarify…I don’t think she’s trying to make mainstream country albums that have depth, I think she’s making albums with music she loves, whether it fits the country tag or not.

  6. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    Uggh, I totally agree with the review. This is a real snoozer. None of the old fire in either songwriting or performance.

  7. Igora DolmaNo Gravatar says:

    And I like Mary Chapin. Her songs are simple and easy to understand. And I can easily sing most of them.

  8. CarterNo Gravatar says:

    I largely agree with the review. The song, as performed, doesn’t match the energy of the lyrics. But watching a video of it being performed on the TODAY show, it sure looked like that recorded performance was pretty intentional, or at least a close match of the live performance, which almost looked like a cool jazz combo performance, rather restrained.

    The song’s placement on the CD is also puzzling to me. After the strong building of the album to its climactic pairing of “Iceland” and “The Age of Miracles”, I expected a more energetic epilogue to close out the album. Again, “The Way I Feel” seems strong enough lyrically and melodically, but the performance just isn’t there. And the bonus track, “This Is Home,” is lovely and touching, but just doesn’t propel the the listener of of the listening as an album that is this strong overall deserves.

  9. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    If I remember right, I think MCC has suffered through some health issues the last couple of years. I can’t say whether they’ve affected her in terms of recording albums in an adverse way.

    In general, I think she is one of those so-called “fringe” artists (like Linda, Emmylou, or Lucinda Williams), someone who considers country music a part of her musical pallette, but not the only thing in it. Her style is more introspective and thoughtful; and I’d rather see her do the country genre her way than try to be somebody she isn’t.

  10. TomNo Gravatar says:

    …snoozer no. 3 – the others are the new dierks bently release and zac brown feat. alan jackson.
    they all are not very deep songs but i love each of them. perhaps, it’s the the absence of bombast. perhaps, it’s the fact that they don’t strive for more than they actually are – solid music, done nicely. the louder it gets on the charts, the more i start appreciating these modest sounding tunes and the people, who release them. taylor might say: they sing real slow…

    that’s just fine with me.

  11. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    Her best ever? No, but I enjoyed it. I thought the slower tempo gave the song a pleasant laid-back feel. But I do tend to be biased in favor of Mary Chapin Carpenter. Still, I would have to say that “I Put My Ring Back On” was better.

  12. BobNo Gravatar says:

    I liked this song. But I miss those songs of hers from the 90′s that rocked and/or showed attitude like “Let Me Into Your Heart”, her last top 20 country single, “Shut Up and Kiss Me”, “I Feel Lucky”, “Quittin’ Time”, etc. Those songs had life. It wasn’t just the lyrics that got my attention. It was the music too. I’m all for great lyrics but you need great music to pump life into them. Otherwise, I may as well just read them.

  13. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar says:

    I want to disagree because I like Carpenter so much, and even this song to some degree. But you nailed it down pretty tight, especially with the last two sentences.

  14. Soul Miners DaughterNo Gravatar says:

    Love the review and totally agree. “Stones in the Road” is STILL an amazing album that makes me think and leaves me better for listening to it.

  15. Charly StuangstabalakNo Gravatar says:

    Mary Chapin Carpenter was awesome in the early 1990s. But then starting in the late 1990s she forgot that songs are supposed to have actual hooks. Her music became a major snoozefest.

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