The Age of Miracles

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Not to be confused with Age of Miracles, a science fiction novel by John Brunner.
This article is about the album. For the Karen Thompson Walker novel, see The Age of Miracles (novel).
The Age of Miracles
Studio album by Mary Chapin Carpenter
Released April 27, 2010
Genre Folk, Rock, Country
Length 50:12
Label Zoë
Producer Mary Chapin Carpenter
Matt Rollings
Mary Chapin Carpenter chronology
Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas
(2008)
The Age of Miracles
(2010)
Ashes and Roses
(2012)

The Age of Miracles is the tenth studio album released by American music artist Mary Chapin Carpenter. The album was released on April 27, 2010 on Zoë Records and was produced by Carpenter and Matt Rollings.

The Age of Miracles is Carpenter's third album released under the Zoë record label, and is also her first studio album since The Calling in 2007. The album peaked at #6 on the Billboard Magazine Top Country Albums chart and #28 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

Background and content[edit]

The Age of Miracles consists of twelve tracks of new material, all of which were written solely by Mary Chapin Carpenter.[1] In a recent interview, Carpenter explained the album's thematic significance. She commented that the album's title track reflects on Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, while the album's seventh track ("Mrs. Hemingway") is about the first wife of author Ernest Hemingway. She also mentioned that the fifth track "4 June 1989" explains the Tiananmen Square Massacre and its remembrance by Chinese activist Chen Gueng.[2]

The album is generally considered to feature a mix of styles. Cody Miller of PopMatters found that The Age of Miracles contained mainly a mixture of "uptempo numbers and mournful ballads," and that the release was "classic MCC: sober, insightful, whimsical, and beautiful." However, in contrast, Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine commented that the album's production never strays too far from the "pedestrian, coffeehouse blend of hushed acoustic strumming."[3] The album reflects its country roots, with Vince Gill and Alison Krauss performing background vocals on several songs. However, other tracks, such as the ninth song "What You Look For," sound "electric" according to The 9513 magazine.[2]

Thematically, tracks on The Age of Miracles sound more emotional, according to PopMatters, who described "The Way I Feel" as having "plenty of room to relive the frustration she displayed so measured and matured on “Passionate Kisses”." In addition, the track "Iceland" uses metaphors to explain the song's thesis.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (63/100)[5]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[6]
Billboard (favorable)[7]
The Boston Globe (average)[8]
Paste (3.6/10)[9]
The Phoenix 2.5/4 stars[10]
PopMatters 6/10 stars[4]
Q 3/5 stars[5]
Slant Magazine 2/5 stars[3]
The 9513 3.5/5 stars[2]
Under the Radar 4/10 stars[5]

The Age of Miracles mainly received positive reviews from music critics and magazines. On Metacritic, it has been given a score of 63 out of 100 based on 9 "generally favorable reviews".[5] Mark Deming of Allmusic gave the release four out of five stars, calling the album "literate and thoughtful." Deming later concluded "Mary Chapin Carpenter doesn't sound especially concerned with how much product she'll move on The Age of Miracles; instead, she's made an album that speaks with honesty and clarity about the mysteries of love and fate, and she communicates well enough that it's hard to imagine anyone who has ever thought about the ways life can turn on a dime not being moved by the beauty of this music."[6] The 9513's Jim Caligiuri gave the album three and a half out of five stars, finding that the effort had a "distinct point of view" but was too outspoken and "Folksie." Caligiuri later concluded by saying "Hot young country, or whatever they’re calling it these days, it’s not – but those seeking something with meaning and artistry will find a lot to appreciate in The Age Of Miracles."[2]

The Age of Miracles was also reviewed by Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine, who only gave the album two out of five stars. Keefe found that although the album was inspired by current events, the material seemed to feel "dull" and "lifeless." Keefe explained his reasoning, saying "Carpenter's early albums balanced her folkier tendencies with inspired elements of contemporary country and pop. But on Miracles, she and co-producer Matt Rollings rarely stray from a pedestrian, coffeehouse blend of hushed acoustic strumming. Songs like 'We Traveled So Far,' 'I Was a Bird,' and 'I Have a Need for Solitude' run together as though afraid to impose themselves, resulting in an album that seems a great deal longer than it really is."[3] Finally, the album was reviewed by PopMatters' Cody Miller, who gave the release a six out of ten rating. Miller reported that "The Age Of Miracles confirms once again (not that it was ever in question) that Carpenter is a strong songwriter and a seasoned singer. For every single Sugarland, Lady Antebellum, or Swift rackup, Carpenter should be thanked."[4]

Track listing[edit]

All songs composed by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

  1. "We Traveled So Far" – 4:27
  2. "Zephyr" – 3:34
  3. "I Put My Ring Back On" – 2:45
  4. "Holding Up the Sky" – 4:48
  5. "4 June 1989" – 4:47
  6. "I Was a Bird" – 3:26
  7. "Mrs. Hemingway" – 5:59
  8. "I Have a Need for Solitude" – 3:43
  9. "What You Look For" – 4:08
  10. "Iceland" – 4:44
  11. "The Age of Miracles" – 4:32
  12. "The Way I Feel" – 3:19
  13. "This Is Home" - 5:35 (iTunes exclusive bonus track)
  14. "The Edge Of The World" - 5:14 (Amazon exclusive bonus track)

Personnel[edit]

Sales chart positions[edit]

Album
Chart (2010) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard 200 28
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 6
U.S. Billboard Folk Albums[11] 1

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Age of Miracles Liner Notes (Zoë Records). 
  2. ^ a b c d Caligiuri, Jim (5 May 2010). "Album Review: Mary Chapin Carpenter - The Age of Miracles". The 9513. Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Keefe, Jonathan (22 April 2010). "Mary Chapin Carpenter: The Age of Miracles". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Miller, Cody (26 April 2010). "Mary Chapin Carpenter: The Age of Miracles". PopMatters. Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Critic Reviews for The Age Of Miracles". Metacritic. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Deming, Mark. "The Age of Miracles - Mary Chapin Carpenter". Allmusic. Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  7. ^ "Mary Chapin Carpenter, 'The Age of Miracles'". Billboard. 14 May 2010. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Morse, Steve (26 April 2010). "Mary Chapin Carpenter, 'The Age of Miracles'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  9. ^ Chapman, Gray (27 April 2010). "Mary Chapin Carpenter: The Age of Miracles :: Music :: Reviews". Paste. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  10. ^ Milano, Brett (16 June 2010). "Mary Chapin Carpenter: The Age of Miracles". The Phoenix. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  11. ^ "Billboard Top Folk Albums". Billboard.com. Retrieved 9 May 2010. 

External links[edit]