With early 2001’s reflective Time* Sex* Love*, Mary Chapin Carpenter said her tentative goodbyes to the safe haven of country radio, and on ’04’s riveting Between Here And Gone she addressed the frailties of the post-9/11 national psyche and her place as a newly married woman within that not-so-brave new world. On The Calling, she’s still seeking a truce between the inner and outer forces that pull and tug: what she knows to be true and what she believes, what it means to be a thinking person in America today and how it feels to surrender to the unknown. Co-produced (as was its predecessor) by pianist Matt Rollings, it may or may not be the final piece of a trilogy, but it is her most authoritative and cogent statement. The gloomy, bluesy “Houston” looks beyond lives and geography torn asunder by Katrina and gazes fearfully and painfully into a blank future; the pro–Dixie Chicks “On with the Song” lays waste to the callousness of the “decider” and those foolish enough to buy into it. Not all’s culled from the headlines here, but it’s clear that Carpenter, in kissing off Nashville’s expectations, has found a more honest calling.