Tri­umphant spir­its of soul rise up as one

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music -

THE par­al­lels be­tween Toni Childs and Beth Nielsen Chap­man are pal­pa­ble. In­de­pen­dent fe­male Amer­i­can singer- song­writ­ers of sim­i­lar vin­tage and qual­ity, they have over­come ca­reer- threat­en­ing ill­nesses to reemerge si­mul­ta­ne­ously with their strong­est, most spir­i­tu­ally in­flected al­bums. The ti­tle of Childs’s first stu­dio al­bum since 1994 con­veys the for­ti­tude that en­abled the Kauaibased Cal­i­for­nian to deal with an acute thy­roid dis­or­der. A doc­u­men­tary song com­mis­sion from The Vagina Mono­logues au­thor Eve Ensler in­spired the come­back. The life- af­firm­ing Be­cause You’re Beau­ti­ful , which went on to score an Emmy award, is now Keep the Faith ’ s sign- off. The stir­ring ti­tle track is the lead- off. When All is Said and Done , writ­ten dur­ing the artist’s bat­tle with Graves’ dis­ease, is an­other song that moves and grooves. The grav­i­tas is coun­ter­bal­anced by the hu­mour of I Saw God in the Su­per­mar­ket , the down- home Mama’s in the Kitchen and the chirpy One Life . Nielsen Chap­man’s voice is per­fect for Prism , a two- disc col­lec­tion of de­vo­tional and spir­i­tu­ally charged songs. CD 1 show­cases pieces penned with other cel­e­brated song­writ­ers, plus ma­te­rial by Fin­nish com­poser Si­belius and a splen­didly named 19th- cen­tury Bri­tish poet, Fol­liot Sand­ford Pier­point. CD 2 is even more catholic, com­pris­ing a com­bi­na­tion of tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary ma­te­rial from Iran, Is­rael, In­dia, South Africa, Ti­bet, Cuba, and the Hopi na­tion, with the Nashville singer, who has over­come breast can­cer, cop­ing im­pres­sively with some tonguetwist­ing lan­guages. Nielsen Chap­man’s plu­ral­is­tic, non- aca­demic ap­proach ren­ders Prism fully ac­ces­si­ble, even for athe­ists.

Tony Hil­lier

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