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Chapin doesn't sing very well, he is not yet anywhere near his potential as a songwriter, and the arrangements are bland. His lyrics are sometimes skillfully done, but his melodies are either boringly predictable or simply don't go anywhere. When they arrive at her house, she mumbles something about how they must get together, hands him a twenty-dollar bill and says "keep the change.
Harry Chapin is a songwriter, and a singer of songs. His songs are his alone, and their impact is in their own mark -- the touch of the songwriter's art which makes each song a molding of himself. In the closing song of the album, "Same Sad Singer," he writes: "Been putting myself here inside each song," which is what he does.
Because these songs are intensely personal, they also have a quality of realism -- and the personal touches seem to make each song more universal. Everybody at some point or other faces that moment of complete isolation, or that moment of discovery that it's that time again, whether the moment comes before a set of rusty railroad tracks, as it does to him in "Sometime, Somewhere Wife" or during a long lonely ride on a Greyhound bus.
The songs are handled with the sensitivity and finesse they deserve. The music itself is full of surprises, with subtle changes of key and rhythm, or sometimes, as in "Could You Put Your Light On, Please," with a kind of rocking spirited rhythm which accentuates the pathos in the lyrics by contrast. Harry Chapin's first album should earn him a following.
It is as solid piece of professional music as was ever laid down on wax, and the production itself is excellent. But this isn't just excellently produced, beautifully arranged and performed second-rate material. All of it falls second to the material. These songs are a kind of trip into self-discovery land, and somehow, after hearing the album, one emerges a little bit wiser. Harry Chapin, on two particular cuts on this debut album, explodes with vast musical depth and power beyond 90 percent of the major acts in all music today -- "Taxi" and "Dogtown.
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