Although she's been through a life-threatening illness, the death of her father and a divorce, all within a relatively short period of time, Mary Chapin Carpenter has emerged with Ashes and Roses, an album that is hopeful and demonstrates that even a difficult journey has its brighter spots.

One such bright spot on the 13-song collection is "Soul Companion," on which Mary Chapin shares vocals with pop-folk icon James Taylor. The song's theme -- that sharing the road with a treasured friend -- was one the singer-songwriter decided to take one step further for the accompanying music video. After collecting more than 800 photographs of fans with their own "soul companions," (be they human, animal or object), she took dozens and created the first in what will be a series premiering over the next several weeks. (See the first "Soul Companion" video below.)

Acknowledging that recording this album was often difficult because of the challenging subjects the songs cover, she was grateful to have more than a few soul companions to lean on for support.

"I surrounded myself with people I knew, musicians and people I trusted," Mary Chapin tells The Boot. "These sessions were emotional and on certain days it was hard to be singing these songs ... not dispassionately, but to separate the experience from the attempt to get it recorded. I don't know that I accomplished that. I hear places on the record where I know I was on the verge."

The Ashes and Roses tour is now underway. Mary Chapin is in Wisconsin for a series of shows this weekend. Keep track of her tour schedule here.

Watch the 'Soul Companion' Video