(Disclaimer: Those looking for a brief description of the album will find what their looking for in the "Album Overview" section. The section titled "Detailed Track Discussion" is meant only for those who want to read detailed descriptions of the songs, and they do not constitute the essence of this review. Lastly and most importantly, this review is not necessarily written by the point of view of a Carole King fan.)
This is not only Carole King's best selling album, but it's one of the greatest selling albums of all time. Is all this attention it received worthy? Well, I think so...
Best song: "I Feel the Earth Move"
I Feel the Earth Move A+
So Far Away A+
It's Too Late A
Home Again B+
Way Over Yonder B-
You've Got a Friend B
Where You Lead B-
Will You Love Me Tomorrow? B-
Smackwater Jack A-
(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman B
*Out in the Cold B
*Smackwater Jack B-
Overall Score: 4/5
This is Carole King's sophomore release, and for whatever reason, I don't enjoy it nearly as much as I liked her debut album. There aren't major differences in style compared to the previous album, but I do think her first one had some better songs on it. I also get *slightly* bored listening to Tapestry, which didn't happen while I was listening to Writer. Nonetheless, for some reason, the general public disagrees with me! Dang public!
But don't read that to say that Tapestry is a bad album in any way. Au contraire! It's a great album! If you think you'd enjoy down-earth, organic pop music sung by somebody with a raspy and human-sounding voice, then this is the perfect album to get. The best thing about this album, however, is that it has some really good songs on it.
The album opener is my favorite. "I Feel the Earth Move" is a straightforward and humble song, but it is 100 percent catchy, and there's even a certain touch of style about it. The song to follow is "So Far Away," which is an incredibly touching ballad. It's true, there are many great songs on this album!
Unfortunately, after that point, the album does tend to drop off a bit. It's either due to the fact that there might not be enough apparent diversity in here that I get somewhat bored with it all by the end or just that the songs get more boring. King sings some of the songs she wrote for other artists (these artists including James Taylor and Arethra Franklin, whose version are more famous) including "I've Got a Friend" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." Both songs are nice, sunny pop songs that King sets to her earthly tone, but they don't really come off as GREAT. Many of the other songs on the latter half are less famous, but they come off similarly to me.
Nonetheless, you cannot argue that this isn't an excellent album. I like King's approach to writing pop music, and I think it fits with her raspy vocals extremely well. This is certainly a recommended album. If you have purchased this and love it, then I urge you to purchase Writer as well.
Detailed Track Reviews
"I Feel the Earth Move" is a brilliant little piano pop song. The instrumentation consists of a bouncy piano, a very subtle electric guitar and an even more subtle bass guitar keeping the song almost danceable. King delivers a convincing vocal performance, singing a very catchy melody with her raspy vocals. It is structured well. It has a good chorus and a nice instrumental interlude. A very straightforward song, but it's a good one.
After all that gleeful happiness, King delivers a touching ballad. "So Far Away" is an incredibly pretty song with a great melody, too. Again, she keeps the instrumentation to a piano and an extremely subtle guitar, drum and bass guitar. At the end, there's a simple flute playing. She wants to keep the song sounding organic and human, and to that, she succeeds with flying colors! This is a great work. As far as I'm concern all the commercial attention this album received is justified by these first two songs.
King turns up the jazz-meter ever so slightly with "It's Too Late." But this song is yet another fantastic pop rock song with a very good light groove. King is so in-tuned with the pop rock culture from the '60s that she's albe to make songs this solid and catchy.
The down-to-earth homliness of "Home Again" makes the song charming although I miss the unquestionably great melodies that appeared on the previous three tracks! Well, this is still better than most people are able to give it. The piano is mixed more loudly with this ballad as King delivers a particualrly soulful vocal performance.
The Beatles-esque "Beautiful" proves that, well, she could have written songs for the Beatles, too! Naturally, the Beatles might have done some neat things with this in the studio, but King just wants to keep things organic and simple. The bouncy piano and the "oom-pah" bass guitar gives the song a nice flow to it. This is such a pretty song; the song title did good advertisement.
"Way Over Yonder" is one of Carole Kings soul songs. (Remember, she used to write music for Aretha Franklin for crying out loud!) This isn't bad and it proves to be pretty distinctive even though I always think soul music sounds alike. King gives the vocals of the song her best. This is a good work but clearly not among the album's best, because the melody doesn't interest me much. (It's kind a usual soul/gospel melody.)
"You've Got a Friend," written by King earlier for James Taylor, was already a huge hit. King gives it quite a bit more soulful performance than Taylor's light folk-pop version of it. As you'd expect, she also plays the piano with it as oppsed to light strums of the acoustic guitar. This song is so overplayed that I'm sure everybody knows the melody by heart. It's a good song, but it's not the best. It's too corny for my taste.
"Where You Lead" is an upbeat pop rock song. The stronger presence of the drums than the other songs I guess makes this hard rock! Again, it's not a bad song. I kind of miss the death-defying hooks that King is capable of, but this is a decent little song anyway.
King goes country without losing her general sound with "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" She has a definitively country melody that isn't bad. The slow pacing does run the risk of getting boring without much that helps us gain our attention. This also sounds a tad bit like "You've Got a Friend" interestingly enough.
A bit of R&B is provided with "Smackwater Jack" and it is a very enjoyable song! It has a nice swing to it, and I like the melody to it. There's a bit of electic piano in here that seems to piddle around a bit even though the song would have worked perfectly well without it. This is more of a guitar-led rocker, which is the first and only one of those in this album.
"Tapestry" is more of a folk ballad except done with a piano instead of a guitar. And, it's yet another good song! The playing is a bit chilling this time, which gives it a more distinctive feel.
"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" is the other extremely famous song. It was originally sung in the '60s by Arethra Franklin. Of course it's a good song, though in my humble opinion, not nearly one of King's best songs. Again, she gives the song the organic, homely feel as opposed to Franklin's lusher, more gospelly version. The melody is good, so there's not much to complain about.
This is a bonus track, but "Out in the Cold" doesn't really sound out-of-place. It's an upbeat song and more of an R&B rocker. The melody sure is catchy!
The second bonus track is a live version of "Smackwater Jack." This didn't seem so necessary that they include it as a bonus track, but it's free, so why would I complain? I guess nobody really wants to buy a live Carole King album, so this is good at least for those who might like a taste of what she sounds like live. It's not so special to be honest!
This is another fine bunch of organic pop songs from corporate music's favorite stock writer!
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