It’s there, somewhere. Lurking in your parent’s record collection. Nestled in a car boot crate or sitting in a charity shop. You’ve seen the cover a thousand times without realising. Oh. The barefoot hippy chick with a cat, sitting at a window. Well, the next time you see it, buy it. It’s a classic sleeve, a masterpiece of an album, and once you play it, you’ll twig that Carole King’s Tapestry is a part of musical history that goes beyond the ubiquity of its content. Our Spotify Thursday brings you the absolutely perfect mix of rock, pop, folk and soul that is Carole King’s Tapestry.
She’s now on our radars again (as if she ever went away) as she’s playing the entire album in full (for the first time), in Hyde Park this summer. The musical of her life is doing brisk West End business, and as summer nears, it’s good to listen to it as a collection rather than the oft-covered, everybody sing-a-long mammoth singles that still dominate the airwaves.
It was her second album, and has sold over 25 million copies to date. Not bad, seeing as it’s nestled in a discography of dozens of albums. Some may have retired with just the one classic under their belt (take note Oasis), but that voice, and those songwriting skills would have been wasted. Carole wrote or co-wrote all the songs (with ex-husband Gerry Coffin). When the album was in the charts, it was being covered straight away. She’s got the songwriting chops of Bacharach, and the voice of a soul legend, except, you know, she’s white.
You could pigeonhole Tapestry as easy listening, or feel that having a hairbrush moment to ‘Will you Love me Tomorrow’ is a guilty pleasure. Well, Tapestry is very easy to listen to, and it’s far from guilty. Listen to each tune and you’ll hear a perfect measure of emotion that’s not raw like Alanis Morissette or as angry as PJ Harvey. Each song beautifully tells a story of love lost, found and kept without mournful regret. Her voice elevates each tune to an almost gospel level, and with the likes of James Taylor playing, and Joni Mitchell on backing vocals, it’s pretty much perfect.
The album has grooves (I Feel the Earth, Will you Love me Tomorrow), almost Appalachian religious storytelling (Tapestry, Way over Yonder) and exquisitely written lyrics on every song. Piano and background vocals complement each other perfectly. Strings are used sparingly and effectively, and the sax (Way over Yonder) wails in just the right places. Charles ‘Charlie’ Larkey lets his bass lift each tune higher.
Treat yourself to 45 minutes of bliss. A voice, lyrics and arrangement that will stand the test of time for a long time to come, then go and impress your parents (or peers) and drop ‘Oh, I just listened to Tapestry. Pretty cool album’ and catch some kudos from a different quarter.
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