Mary Chapin Carpenter and her music since the early '90's.
I found her albums worked best when she incorporated faster paced songs with her melancholy ballads and introspective tunes. I get that songs like "I Feel Lucky" were almost crafted for radio airplay and that might not necessarily be her style, but more than a nudge from the record company A&R team.
...still it worked, at least to a degree.
But after 5-6 albums with the same co-producer, even I had to feel that some things felt and sounded a little stale. And after that, I was never fully on board with the production of her last 3-4 albums.
Somewhere between the two, as Chapin did a number of songs outside her normal album routine and all with different producers - and the results were (in my opinion) some of the strongest works she's ever done.
One would be "10,000 Miles", from the movie Fly Away Home (done with Mark Isham), another being "Blue Night" from Big Mon: the songs of Bill Monroe. But one of the best things she's ever recorded was a song co-written with and produced by Randy Scruggs.
Ricky is Earl's son. ....and if you don't know who Earl Scruggs is, you should probably look him up.
In the late 90's Scruggs released his one and only album, which incorporated his musical expertise with the talent of Emmylou Harris, Iris DeMent and probably not coincidentally, one of Rosanne Cash's best songs ever. I don't think Scruggs actually sings - he just hired really talented folks with which to collaborate.
But I have loved "It's Only Love' by Carpenter and Scruggs for almost two decades. It shows a versatility in Carpenter that she clearly has, but doesn't always show in the studio. My assessment for a long time has been, she should team up with him a lot more often. Since it has been since 1998, I'll assume this isn't going to happen, but it's a nice thought.
Still, it is a light-hearted three and a half minutes.
Randy Scruggs & Mary Chapin Carpenter - "It's Only Love"