What does Charlotte Martin sound like?
Powerful alt-piano pop melodies charged by an equally powerful voice.
The review of Charlotte Martin – Knives and Bouquets
Having opened up her own vocal tuition and songwriting business, Charlotte Martin’s solo music career had taken something like a pause for a few years. However, her new EP owes its genesis to this business venture as each song has been co-written with her students. Whilst these songs all sound like classic Char-Mar tracks, they almost sound like a promo EP for the kind of musical heights a student of Martin’s can reach.
‘Chemicals’ opens the EP leaning into minimal electronica with a mid-tempo earworm that slowly grows into a trip-hop style outro. The two-chord sway waxes and wanes like a song lost from the Stromata era of Charlotte Martin’s career. Deep, resonant and deceptively catchy from the second listen onwards, Suzanne Alvis who co-wrote the track deserves praise for making a lot out of a simple idea.
The majority of the rest of the EP relies on Charlotte Martin’s piano skills and her mammoth vocal range. ‘Everything’, co-written with Jim Clay, is a beautiful ballad about all-consuming love and the nerves that sparkle from it. Its pace and theatrical poise really allow the piano and vocals to explode into a triumphant euphoria in the choruses. It is an infectious surge of emotion that makes the song stand out. Samantha deLuca co-wrote ‘Just Like You Do’ and this song shines with its operatic finale that comes from its ethereal but cinematic first half. In comes layered backing vocals and dramatic percussion. Then as the track turns into a gothic Enya, Charlotte’s voice transforms into a classically trained operatic powerhouse, nailing some extremely impressive notes. It’s possibly the biggest vocal performance we’ve heard from her in nearly a decade, to the point where I genuinely said wow out loud.
Aria Knight co-wrote the final two tracks on the EP. ‘Atlantis’ is a quintessential chamber pop anthem. Lightly dressed in keyboard pads and synth bass throbs, as Marin sings “I don’t want to be Atlantis, beautiful and wasted. I don’t want to be a memory”. I wonder if that cuts through the heart of the EP. By teaching her trade and skills, a legacy is passed on so her musical talent doesn’t become a memory as it is passed on for active use. It is a superb track that feels like a lost track from ‘Rapture’. Peeling it back to a soulful piano ballad, ‘Nothing But Air’ is a sensitive and emotional finale. Few artists can pour such visceral energy into a studio performance and make it sound as electric as a live show. That’s the magic Charlotte Martin has had throughout her career and it’s still glowing brightly in 2023.
You’d never know these tracks were co-written with her students as they sound perfectly placed in Charlotte Martin’s catalogue. After a few instrumental piano releases, it’s great to hear a return to singer-songwriter territory again. Her songcraft and performance continue to wow and marvel. Hopefully, this EP will open up a new generation of fans to one of the most criminally underrated musicians of the last few decades. A new double-album showing more co-written music with her students is rumoured for 2024 and on this basis, I cannot wait.
Recommended track: Everything
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