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Charlotte Church

ONE ep

alligator wine records

Currently completing her new material Summer Tour, which has taken in festival appearances with her new band as well as venue shows in Brighton, York, Leeds, Cambridge et al, Ms Church has set about releasing a series of EPs, this release being ‘One’ and bringing us four tracks.

The ability to  bring light and shade to any style of music gives Charlotte the ability to ring the changes on her self-penned or collaborated songs. This skill is not to be taken lightly – your scribe recently saw Canadian metal stars Kobra & The Lotus play in London and whilst the musicians had mastered dynamics and more especially six-string electric guitar interplay, their female vocalist was either off or on, roaring or silent. Which dulled the senses, I can tell you. Of course, Kate Bush specialised in whisper-to-scream numbers BUT she never had Church’s tunefulness and control. Tori Amos may be an inspiration for current CC output I suspect but as Church’s present live shows demonstrate, she is not  aloof and will crack jokes and banter with the crowd between songs rather than be a diva.

This set has gorgeous impressionist artwork with an autumnal tinge and gives us ‘The Rise’ which has a soft start and building patter of a rhythm track and with its yearning vocal and soaring climax pretty much sets the tone for the new style of music-making  ; ‘Say It’s True’ which has a dense synth mist intro and semi-martial drumming takes us to a catchy and insistent double-tracked chorus. Church sounds distinctive but not affected, never afraid to drop back to quieter passages.

The killer cut here though is ‘How Not To Be Surprised When You’re a Ghost’ which is in Amy Studt dreamworld territory and is said to be inspired by Nabokov’s ‘Pale Fire’. The accompanying video has children playing around in costumes, some vintage and a shore finale which is ..well, spooky. Almost ‘Wicker Man’ but maybe seeing that film again recently (plus its belated follow-up ‘The Wicker Tree’ ) has implanted unsettled feelings when seeing rural settings.  Baroque pop man Jonathan Powell holds the heavy chug for the coda then takes it way fer the resolution. And dammit, the tune is haunting !  Hear this and challenge me…

‘Beautiful Wreck’ is an admonishment in song over a syncopated and dark backdrop, hints of a string arrangement seep through. A full-blooded male chorus cuts in to evolve into a Broadway-like ‘Man of La Mancha’ sound.
The musical settings are finely crafted and powerful (with heavier songs she does now still to be released) standard of singing here throughout is top-notch and I mean on a  par with Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick ( check her ‘Lawman’ for bite and crispness) and the great 1994 US band vocalist Karen Lawrence. Of whom Charlotte and musical partner knew nothing at all ( now fixed, by me – both 1994 albums are treasure troves)

More tracks soon, please – a rich vein of creativity is being mined, for the discerning.

Pete Sargeant

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