In November, we heard the first single off of 77-year-old English folk giant Michael Chapman’s forthcoming album True North, which is somewhere around his 50th album and follows 2017’s 50, which celebrated the golden jubilee of his career. Now, we’re premiering the second single, “After All This Time.”
Maybe naturally, it’s a melancholic lullaby about eroded love, told from the resignation of old age. Fellow British folkie Bridget St. John assists Chapman, her light but throaty tone wonderfully cutting his heavy rusted croon. Over a mesh of twanging guitars played by Chapman as well as Steve Gunn, plus BJ Cole on the pedal steel and atmospheric cello courtesy of Sarah Smout, Chapman and St. John ask if it’s words or silence that ruins love: “Which can cause the distance between two people, once so close?” They conclude there’s no satisfying answer besides: “We grew up/ We grew apart/ Found other dreams to be pursued.”
The irreconcilable sadness of faded love is a ubiquitous theme in music, and “After All This Time” is a simple but convincing take on a long-standing standing fable. Luckily, Chapman acknowledges the weariness of the trope — “We were such a common story/ Maybe fated from the start” — even as he insists that it’s still one that matters: “But I remember all your glory, and you left something in my heart.”
The story behind the song might make you laugh or weep. As Chapman explains via email:
In a bookshop I met a beautifully dressed woman of a certain age, who said — “it’s Michael isn’t it?” — I said yeah? It wasn’t a difficult question. A lengthy pause followed, then she said — “we were married for four years” – Not my finest hour.
Out of that, came this song.
Check it out below.
True North is out 2/8 on Paradise Of Bachelors. Pre-order it here.