It’s no small miracle that Mary Chapin Carpenter is out with a new album and hitting the road again for the first time in three years.
She suff ered a pulmonary embolism in the spring of 2007, a life threatening condition that occurs when one or more arteries in the lungs become blocked, and was forced to cancel the tour promoting her Grammy-nominated album, “The Calling.”
“One of the things that was so hard about getting sick was the period of time that followed when I wasn’t working — writing and performing, just doing what I’d been doing for the past almost 30 years,” she said in a recent interview. “It really threw me. I really questioned my identity and my purpose in life.”
When she recovered enough, Carpenter, 52, picked up a pen and began to create what would become her latest effort, “The Age of Miracles.” The album, released in April, peaked at No. 1 on the folk albums chart and No. 6 on the top country albums chart.
“The writing of this record, certainly a large part of it was almost like a narrative of coming out of that experience,” she said.
“The title song puts out the idea that we may live in an age of miracles if we’re lucky enough to believe in them,” she added. “There is so much out there in the world to be inspired by, to connect to … and when you are in a place in your life where things are so dark and so hard to figure out, if you are some how able to reach those conclusions, then that’s a pretty amazing thing.”
Two songs in particular refer directly to her health scare, including “Holding Up the Sky” with the line, “Life astounds us in an instant, changing all we know,” as well as the song “Iceland.”
“It certainly wasn’t about the country of Iceland or the recent volcano,” she said. “But rather just using the notion of a very far away, dark, cold place to be a metaphor for this sense of dislocation and fear and loss and doubt that followed my illness.”
Carpenter says fans wont find any “toe-tappers” on this record, like her 1990s hits “Down at the Twist and Shout,” ‘’I Feel Lucky” or “Shut Up and Kiss Me.”
“It would be sort of an affectation to try to do something like that over again,” she said. “I think I knew going into the studio that this record in particular would be a fairly quiet, meditative record.”
The album features guest vocals by Vince Gill on “I Put My Ring Back On” and Alison Krauss on “I Was a Bird.”
More than anything, Carpenter is looking forward to performing in front of her fans.
“The connection between the band and us on stage and the audience has always been just one of the great rewards of my life,” she said.