EW Staff
September 27, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Mary Chapin Carpenter
A Place in the World, Oct. 22

”The theme of place is a real big thing to me,” Mary Chapin Carpenter says, reflecting on her new album, A Place in the World. ”Place is connected to identity, and identity is connected to self and worth, and together these songs make artistic and spiritual sense. I’m always trying to figure out where I fit.”

Music programmers might agree. Carpenter’s last effort, Stones in the Road (1994), was deemed too serious and atmospheric to spawn more than two singles, as compared to the six her 1992 triple-platinum Come On Come On yielded. Now, Carpenter’s sixth album lifts the mood — though her commercial imperatives may forever play second fiddle to her artistic impulses. Alongside ”Ideas Are Like Stars” and ”Sudden Gift of Fate” — two songs typical of the poetic gems that forged her reputation as a songwriter — are several radio-friendly singles, including the jangly ”I Want to Be Your Girlfriend” and the R&B-flavored ”Let Me Into Your Heart.” Still, no megahit stands out (even though two tracks, including the inviting ”Keeping the Faith,” were added at the record company’s request after Carpenter first delivered the album).

Carpenter doesn’t much mind.

”What I’m saying in the title song is that you can find moments of clarity and well-being and completeness in the most unpredictable places — someone’s kindness to you, or romantic love, or the way the light falls. It’s these things that resonate to each one of us, even for just a moment. You can run on that for days.” Last Time Around Stones in the Road, 1.3 million copies sold Forecast Worse

Shawn Colvin
A Few Small Repairs, Oct. 1

Colvin’s first album of originals since Fat City (1992) reunites her with producer and ex-lover John Leventhal, who steered her remarkable debut, Steady On, to a 1990 Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album. This return to more provocative material — which includes ”Sunny Came Home,” about a woman who torches her house, as well as a duet with Lyle Lovett on ”Facts About Jimmy” — ought to anoint Colvin with gold-selling status. Last Time Around Cover Girl, 257,000 Forecast Better


In the six years since Oslin’s last studio album, Love in a Small Town, she has become such a stranger to the country charts that her reemergence almost qualifies her as a new artist at age 54. Oslin is sassy as ever on the first single (”Silver Tongue and Goldplated Lies”), but it may take more than that to sell this eclectic collection of revamped moldy oldies rangin’ from Richard Thompson to Irving Berlin. LAST TIME AROUND Greatest Hits, 254,000 FORECAST Worse


Jackson’s last album, the megaplatinum Who I Am, leaned on novelty songs and a retread (”Summertime Blues”) of his 1992 hit ”Chattahoochee.” Now he’s back with a fine collection of rollicking honky-tonk and ballads, half of which he wrote, including the catchy ”Buicks to the Moon.” Which is probably where sales of this album will orbit too. LAST TIME AROUND Who I Am, 2 million FORECAST Better

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