Jen Chapin is a New York based singer songwriter on the rise. She has been dubbed "a first rate storyteller" by Jazz Times magazine, and she earns that praise many times over with her debut album, Linger. On this captivating full band effort, Chapin reaches out to her listeners with an honesty and directness seldom heard in even the best pop songwriting. She is emotionally intense but never overwrought; socially conscious but never preachy. Her melodies are pure, her rhythms taut, her harmonic palette uncommonly rich. She unravels the complex world around her with witty, disarming and ceaselessly original lyrics, revealing a hungry and seasoned talent.
Linger also kicks off Jens multi-album deal with Hybrid Recordings, the label led by former A&M head Al Cafaro and veteran concert promoter John Scher. Jen co-produced Linger with Rod Sherwood and bassist Stephan Crump. Also appearing on Linger are Peter Rende on keyboards, Jamie Fox on guitar, Chris Cheek on saxophones, and Dan Rieser on drums-all major talents on their instruments, uniquely able to give Chapins songs the sophisticated, subtle readings they require.
With Linger, Jen continues to prove that musical depth and accessibility are never mutually exclusive. Still, she challenges her audiences with new sounds: witness 2002s Open Wide (Purple Chair Music), an entire album of duets with Stephan Crump on acoustic bass. Jen and Stephan received rave reviews for this unique recording, and theyve toured throughout the U.S. as a duo. (Three songs from Open Wide can be heard in a full band context on Linger.)
Jen Chapin was born to an extended family of artists and academics, and raised along with her four siblings in Long Island, New York. She entered Brown University, studied abroad in Mexico and Zimbabwe and earned a degree in International Relations. But then, as Jen recounts, "I had the belated realization that I would go crazy if I werent seriously involved with music somehow. So I turned down a spot in a graduate teaching program to become a freshman again at Berklee College of Music. I thought I would end up singing in a bar band as a sideline to teaching high school or working for a non-profit organization, but I just kept getting sucked in deeper to the music..."
Since relocating to New York in 1995, Jen has delved headlong into the citys vibrant and varied music scene, performing at venues such as Joes Pub, The Bottom Line, Town Hall, Fez Under Time Cafe, Mercury Lounge, and the nerve center of the new singer songwriter scene, The Living Room. She has been a supporting act for Aimee Mann and Bruce Hornsby, and her songs have been featured in the feature film "Fresh Cut Grass," which recently won honors at the Hamptons and Texas Film Festivals and is now being broadcast on Showtime Networks. Along with Norah Jones, Jen sings on the debut album by guitarist Joel Harrisons Free Country, a band that performs traditional country and Appalachian tunes in a creative jazz setting.
All the while, Jen has worked hard to interweave her musical and political passions. She chairs the Board of Directors of WHY (World Hunger Year), an activist organization co-founded by her father, the late singer songwriter Harry Chapin. She is especially committed to WHYs "Artists Against Hunger and Poverty" program. Drawing on her experiences as a middle and high school teacher, Jen has also developed a number of workshops/lectures, including "Music and Social Action," "the Hows and WHYs of Hunger", and "Black Music in America." She has presented these workshops to high school and college students and other audiences.
Linger, Jens urban folk manifesto, is an eloquent summation of these efforts. We hear her tangle with romantic struggle ("I Could Fall") and sexual passion ("Me Be Me"); political frustration ("Passive People") and career related heartbreak ("Regular Life"); the ever-present rays of hope ("Till I Get There", "Gold") amid the hectic, self-absorbed rat race ("Little Hours", "City", "Numbers"). "Jen has such integrity, such a strong identity, and such a strong idea of what she wants to convey," marvels co-producer Rod Sherwood. In "Gold", Jen puts it another way: "[I] want to stir up some trouble everywhere I go." With Linger as her calling card, shes poised to do just that.