I Can Dream – Charlotte Church
25:47 • Alligator Wine • August 19, 2013
Little Bastard reviews
I have the upmost respect for people who make music because they want to – people who make music in their garage then self-release it, or give it away for free, and are not concerned with making money or chart positions. It’s music that’s born out of passion. And Charlotte Church is the last person who I expected to be saying that about.
Artists often get caught up in the record company’s idea of what they should be. So desperate to push artists into the most bankable bracket, they end up trying to make their own versions of existing artist. Amy Studt was turned into the next Avril Lavigne when she was clearly more of a pop Fiona Apple; Kate Nash was turned into the next Lily Allen when she was really more akin to Courtney Love; and Charlotte Church, when she wasn’t being milked for her soprano talents, was being forced into Britney Spears territory when really she had more in common with Alison Goldfrapp and Sarah Brightman. Now on her 3rd self-released EP, titled Three, Charlotte has banished her previous child prodigy persona and undergone a stunning ambient makeover worthy of the most authentic of artists.
From the day she appeared on MTV Base singing the jazz standard ‘Summertime’, I’ve had a soft spot for Charlotte Church, and enjoyed her foray into pop music a great deal. But it wasn’t until the hearing ‘Glitterbombed’, from her last EP Two that I was even aware of her new ambient direction.
New EP Three firmly cements her transition from pop starlet to ambient siren, with a strong collection of beautiful and innovative songs that sprawl through prog rock opera to post-rock torch songs.
Opener ‘Sparrow’ sets the mood perfectly, with its somber but evocative melody, with its folk dips and post-rock punch. ‘Remains’ is a beautiful slab of haunting experimental rock, like ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ being covered by a young Sarah Brightman, and leads beautifully to ‘Like A Fool’. It washes over me like Sigur Ros on a summers evening, and is the most tender thing I’ve heard so far.
You box me up,
So you can cut me in half –
Charlotte purrs on the beautiful ‘Magicians Assistant’, all post trip hop with lush strings and vocals that go from a whisper to a cry as the track builds tempo and begins to rock us, turning into a slab of abstract Prince funk that spirals out of control, leaving us with a vaudevillian piano. Yep, it’s wickedly bonkers.
‘I Can Dream’ is the most interesting thing here, and that’s saying something. It has an almost drum ‘n’ bass like groove to it, and the most overt songwriting on display here, but also the noisiest guitars before it drops down to its bare bones again. It reminds me of ‘I’m Deranged’ by Bowie (only ever a compliment) with its subtle beginnings, jungle leanings and its funk rock crescendo. Very exciting indeed. The powerful closing track ‘Water Tower’, and its stunning music video, further help to banish all memory of the previous life of Charlotte Church, closing the EP with the high drama I’ve come to expect from her recent output.
Make no mistake, there’s not a pop song in sight here. What we are treated to is a sonic experience that not only hangs together as a more solid body of work than its predecessors, but also shows Charlotte to be one of the most exciting “new” artists releasing music today. Despite hearing references to Goldfrapp, Sigur Ros and Pink Floyd through out the songs here, along with a splattering of iamamiwhoami and Sarah Brightman bonkersness, Three really doesn’t sound like anything else. It’s a record that feels truly unique in its composition, which is a rarity these days. The fact that it was created by a 27 year old opera singer who first came to the public’s attention during a phone in on This Morning should not only be mentioned but also celebrated.
Charlotte’s extensive vocal training makes her voice the lead instrument in this symphony, and what an instrument it is. Although not pushed to the fore in the way it once was, Charlotte’s voice is still the heart of this collection of songs, and rightly so, as she posses one of the most stunning voices in modern music. Church is a strong young women, creating her own musical path on her own terms, and I only hope that people give this the time it deserves, as any music lovers life would be much better with this EP in it.