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While this website has become known for its in-depth album and concert reviews, the digest contains concise comments on new music our audience has either recommended or might enjoy. Click on album covers or label names for links to further information. Click on the title to view the article.

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Test-Drive Songs CD Cover
Image Word Tree Music
Dreamworks 2002


more Charlotte Martin:
Interview (On Your Shore) (Dec 2004)
Interview (Darkest Hour) (July 2005)
Interview (Veins | Live) (Nov 2005)
Test-Drive Songs (2002)
In Parentheses (2003)
On Your Shore (2004)
Veins (2005)


In Parentheses CD Cover Image RCA Records 2003

On Your Shore CD Cover Image RCA Records 2004

 

(originally published 27 December 2004) Our original three album review and accompanying interview was written to introduce Charlotte Martin to our visitors. She is a stunning singer songwriter who has already gathered a worldwide audience from both Kate Bush and Tori Amos enthusiasts.

Charlotte Martin has received significant attention from Musical Discoveries and joined our featured artists page in November 2005. Use the links underneath the album cover to access later interviews and further information about this tremendously exciting musical artist.

While her album Test-Drive Songs presents the closest allusions to these highly acclaimed singer songwriters, Charlotte's In Parentheses and On Your Shore reveal an artist with significant individuality and great promise. And there were previous albums! Learn more about this exciting artist in our indepth interview with Charlotte conducted during December 2004.

Test-Drive Songs. The opening track on Charlotte Martin's eight track debut is a wonderfully powerful piece of music. "Pretty Thing" begins with an hypnotic drum and piano figure and builds to a fine chorus and then builds even more with Charlotte really getting into the vocals. A great way to start. The thing you notice straight away with the piano openings on both "Talk To Strangers" and "Lightblinde" is the similarity to specific Tori Amos tracks. That's not to decry them, just to give you some idea of how good the piano playing is on this album. "Talk To Strangers" unfolds pleasantly enough, but doesn't match up to either the opener here, or the Tori allusion. "Lightblinde" is a much better piece all round--more imaginative and with some interesting backing vocals and she again uses the spaced arpeggio chords that make such an impression on the opening track.

While Charlotte must be tired of the Tori comparisons, it's hard to escape them after listening to this CD. So often the piano opening to a song mimics not just Tori's style, but specific songs. There are vocal similarities too. On "The Girl I Left Behind" Charlotte even immitates Tori's breathy delivery. That's not to say that Tori is the only noticable influence, Kate Bush is there and so, on "Something Like A Hero" is Jane Siberry.

"Last Day On Earth" is another fine song and, for a while, is the most individual and hence least derivative piece on the disc, though the inevitable does kick in well before the end. Charlotte should let herself shine through much more than she does.

The songs are universally interesting with much to recommend them, but apart from the opener they fail to reach the consistent unimpeachable level of Tori Amos. Does this matter? Well actually, yes, it does, because if you happen to sound this similar to an established artist, either by accident or design, then comparisons are inevitable.

"This is a fine disc in many ways and well worth exploring. And if you like Tori, then the chances are you're either going to love it because it's in a similar vein, or hate it as a blatent imitation. The album is available exclusively from Charlotte's website.

In Parentheses. On Charlotte's follow-up four song EP the influences, whilst still there, are less obvious. The opener "Your Armor" has something distinctly individualistic about it. More mellow and reflective than some of her work, she takes the opportunity to use her voice to great effect.

The title track is possibly the weakest on the disc, despite the powerful ending. There follows a revamped version of "Pretty Thing." It is such a good song that it could be played on spoons and still work beautifully. The final track "Monster" again shows a more confident Charlotte emerging. Signed to RCA, this EP works well as an appetiser for her first full length CD, released in the summer of 2004.

On Your Shore. Charlotte's 2004 album turns out to be a very fine CD indeed, for Charlotte has given up the vocal impressions and sings in a far more natural and convincing way. Even if a few of the piano quotes remain, she has discovered, in more ways than one, a voice of her own. The songs show more individuality, and RCA deserve credit for believing in Charlotte enough to let her continue to develop and do things her way, to grow as an artist, writer and singer and for giving her a clearly sympathetic producer.

There's new power, for example, in the terrific, driving "Limits Of Our Love," the breathless and wonderful "Haunted" and "Steel" has Charlotte singing against some gamlan style percussion before the signature open arpeggio piano kicks in--the piano solo just prior to the coda is straight out of the Tori repertoire, but the fact it sticks out as such shows just how little derivative playing there is on this album. Madman builds and builds and builds.

There's delicacy too in "Every Time It Rains," the beautiful "Parade On," and the piano is replaced by a Rhodes in "Up All Night" which is still fine despite probably being--along with "Something Like A Hero"--the weakest song on the album. And anyone who remembers the massively underrated Judee Sill will love "Sweet Chariot" with its straightforward piano and voice approach and gorgeous harmonies.

It's that time of year when people ponder on 'album of year'. In the female singer/songwriter category, this has to be a major contender. Of the album's 13 tracks--two songs put in a reappearance "Your Armor" from In Parentheses and "Something Like A Hero"from< i>Test Drive Songs--which being the earliest song is the one that sticks out on the album as a Tori clone. All the songs bar one are self penned, the exception being the bonus track, a superb cover of the Stones "Wild Horses."

We'd like to think this shows Charlotte's sense of humour - echoing Tori Amos' penchant for covering tracks by rock bands such as Led Zeppelin and Nirvana. Because if the Tori ghost isn't completely laid in her own songs, it's certainly fading fast to be replaced by an extraordinary and exciting new talent.--Jamie Field in Kington, England and Russ Elliot in New York

 
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