Hearts of Glass, a beautiful new album by Beth Nielsen Chapman, will be released in the United States on April 27. The celebrated songwriter issued the project in the United Kingdom in February prior to a four-week tour there.
Produced by Sam Ashworth, Hearts of Glass is a collection of songs about vulnerability and strength, which includes several new compositions and a few striking versions of rediscovered songs. Riveting and sparse, these songs, like the heart, traverse the delicate line between vulnerability and strength.
Chapman also includes on the record a pair of early songs recorded by Waylon Jennings (“Old Church Hymns & Nursery Rhymes”) and Willie Nelson (“If My World Didn’t Have You”). Rodney Crowell provides background vocals on “If I Didn’t Have You,” and Ruby Amanfu sings on five of the album’s 11 tracks. Hearts of Glass is Chapman’s 13th studio album and her first release since her 2016 induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Although Chapman has been making records since 1980 with many top producers, Hearts of Glass marks the first time in a long time she has not been at least a co-producer. Inspired to create an album with clarity and space, in the same vein of the Civil Wars, Chapman contacted Charlie Peacock, their producer. Peacock embraced her vision. However, when their schedules did not align, Peacock set up an introductory meeting with his son and fellow producer, Sam Ashworth. After initial conversations with Ashworth, Chapman felt confident that this partnership would work and turned production completely over to him.
For Hearts of Glass, Chapman refreshed five songs that have appeared on her past albums: “Rage on Rage,” “All for the Love,” “Child Again,” “Life Holds On” and “Dancer to the Drum.” Ashworth approached the new recordings with minimal touches of production, occasionally moving the accompaniment from piano to acoustic guitar. The spare arrangements are especially effective on poignant songs like “Epitaph for Love.” Meanwhile, “You’re Still My Valentine” provides a unique dip into the complexities of deep lasting love.
“Creatively this was an interesting new dynamic for me,” Chapman says. “Handing over so many of the decisions and trusting the process, while trying to quiet my inner control freak. By doing so, I ended up, not only with something I loved, but I learned a lot about myself and the places you can go when you let someone else drive.”
Ashworth and Chapman also worked together as songwriters on the jubilant “Enough for Me.” In addition, she collaborated with Graham Gouldman (of 10cc) and Nashville songwriter Kevin Montgomery on the inviting lead track, “Come to Mine.”
Chapman’s songs have been cut by an eclectic list of legendary artists ranging from Neil Diamond, Waylon Jennings, Keb Mo’, The Indigo Girls, Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins to Elton John, Patti LuPone, Bette Midler, Amy Grant, Olivia Newton-John and Bonnie Raitt to name a few.
Her impressive songwriting catalog includes “Down on My Knees” (Trisha Yearwood), “Five Minutes” (Lorrie Morgan), “Happy Girl” (Martina McBride), “Here We Are” (Alabama), “Nothing I Can Do About It Now” (Willie Nelson), “Strong Enough to Bend” (Tanya Tucker), and “This Kiss” (Faith Hill).
Other country artists who have recorded her songs include Suzy Bogguss, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Terri Clark, Holly Dunn, Sara Evans, the Forester Sisters, Lee Greenwood, Andy Griggs, Emmylou Harris, Ty Herndon, Highway 101, Barbara Mandrell, Kathy Mattea, Jamie O’Neal, Marie Osmond, Pam Tillis, and Don Williams.
As a breast cancer survivor, speaker on grief and creativity, and a teacher of songwriting, vocal, and creativity workshops, Chapman, in addition to her concerts, has delivered deeply moving and inspiring keynotes at various conferences. Her stories and delivery illustrate the healing power of music, as she weaves her music into this theme, opening every heart to experience how resilience is fueled through creativity. That is the clear focus in her presentations as she deems herself a “creativity whisperer” with a passion for inspiring others to fully blossom into their creative life.