Friday, 19 September 2014

EP Review: Charlotte Carpenter - Whole

A 'Whole' new record from one of Northamptonshire's finest (plus the return of your's truly)

Hey good looking,

I'm back! Have you missed me? What do you mean no? It feels like forever since I last clawed together one of these garbled articles, and what better way to mark my return to Internet-bothering than with an old local favourite.

Well I say old. At twenty three Charlotte Carpenter has melted the hearts of gig- and festival-goers throughout the UK including Glastonbury, hosted some certified ones to watch at her monthly Tea Party do's, and - in the past six months - charted a top ten EP in the iTunes Singer-Songwriter chart (and considering just how amazing that category is in music currently, that's a pretty remarkable feat).

But I haven't made my online comeback merely to comment on the quality of an artist's feet (someone else took that niche long before I had the chance); it's Charlotte's larynx and fingertips that have got me dazzled.

Having played acoustic guitar on her past three records, Kettering's rustic beauty makes the transition to electric virtually flawlessly, utilising the raw and emotive sound of the instrument to great effect. Take the title track, for example: the strumming is absolutely captivating. And as for the slide guitar on country number 'Sinking', inspired by an obsession for the TV show Nashville, it'll have you donning a Stetson and making a grab for the nearest harmonica in next to no time.

Folk music of this ilk has a tendency to sound a bit mediocre, too bland and Radio 2-ish, and although there are definitely a few dull points instrumentally it's Charlotte's lyrical honesty that prevents the EP from fully plummeting into the abyss that is a Chris Evans record of the week. All four songs are deeply personal, exploring a shared theme of self-discovery, and laced with genuine heartfelt emotion.

I was fortunate enough to see Charlotte Carpenter perform at one of Lea Stonhill's Inspiration FM Showcases last year - a brilliant, intimate gig, I had such a good time - and it was there that I realised just how versatile an artist she is, switching between guitars, playing with and without accompaniment from her bassist and drummer, such a naturally talented musician with a flare for songwriting and a powerful set of lungs on her too. Nothing worthwhile in Northampton? I wouldn't be so sure.

Limited edition physical copies of 'Whole' are currently available from Big Cartel. Charlotte's next EP, 'Take It All', is scheduled for release on 6th October 2014.

Tour Dates
6 - Gaslight Club, Leeds
7 - The Castle, Manchester
10 - Four Bars, Cardiff
12 - NN Cafe, Northampton
16 - Latest Music Bar, Brighton
20 - The Bicycle Club, Norwich

21 - Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh
22 - Cellar 35, Aberdeen
23 - Rocking Chair, Sheffield
24 - The Basement, York
27 - Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
28 - Bishop Street Church, Leicester
29 - The Nest, London