Songs of ambition
(and the lack thereof)
And being without
Of being overwhelmed
But still hungry for more
In short, of family
Reckoning was recorded, mixed and produced by the esteemed 5-time Grammy Award winner Kevin Killen, who has mixed, engineered and produced with U2, Elvis Costello, Peter Gabriel, Jewel, Bobby McFerrin, Tori Amos, Kate Bush, Shawn Colvin (among many others).The album reckons with the challenge of balancing creative ambitions with the immediate demands of mothering small children — combined with a good dose of social commentary. In the poignant “Let it Show”, Jen sings to her not-yet firstborn “… the one thing you should know/is find your joy and let it show,” then in the candid tango-tinged rocker “Go Away:” “I love when you go away/my patience returns like a long lost friend..” Jen’s band cooks right along under her intimate portrait of a broken food system in “Feed Your Baby” and “Insatiable,” her indictment of our militaristic and security-obsessed culture, while the sensuous reggae of “Don’t Talk” extols the virtues of non-verbal marital communication (i.e. sex!). Other songs include the fiery “Don’t Rush Me,” emerging from the experience of childbirth, and “Gospel” — a celebration of social movements for economic justice and democracy around the world.
Basic tracking for the songs took place in mid-March at Mission Sound in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, overdubs followed at Stephan Crump’s home studio, and mixing at Killen’s favorite mix room, Zona Dulce in NYC. Reckoning was mastered by the legendary Bob Ludwig at his Gateway Studios in Portland, Maine. Killen describes Reckoning as “a very evocative album,” and the collaboration as “a wonderful and fun experience with an incredible talented array of players.” These players include Jen Chapin’s long-time creative collaborators: her Grammy-nominated acoustic bassist/husband Stephan Crump, “unflappable melodist” (New York Times) Jamie Fox, “singular” (Village Voice) Liberty Ellman (guitarists), “highly regarded” (All Music) drummer Dan Rieser, and the “powerful” Martha Redbone (New Yorker) on background vocals.
Jen says, “I’ve always worked with intimates — old friends, longtime partners, even my husband. So I knew that I needed to trust Kevin Killen as a friend, as well as a master music maker. Our first meeting at a Brooklyn coffee shop on Flatbush Avenue confirmed what I had always heard — that, along with his formidable skills and experience, Kevin possesses a rare decency and unassuming kindness. So after an hour or so of our talking in happy shorthand about music and recording, I asked him if he might accompany me to pick up my 3 year old from pre-school. Of course he obliged and jumped unflinchingly into the chaos — helping search for missing shoes, engaging with shy toddlers, carrying backpacks, and generally affirming the wisdom of my choice! Later, in the studio, Kevin created an adventurous space where we were all free to experiment, to take risks — he just made things happen!”