CHARLOTTE MARTIN - STROMATA (2006)
we're all rotten and we're pure
and we're just looking for a cure
that feels like spring snow
and what we have is what we are
and where we've been got us this far
so let me go
I spent some time under the (shameful) belief that Charlotte Martin was merely another singer-songwriter in the Tori Amos vein, one that wouldn’t stand out to me. I turned on her album expecting pleasant piano pop, and was stricken instantly. Not only do her piano skills rival Tori’s, but her voice, trained for opera, is, for lack of a better word, a total knockout.
And Martin doesn’t merely fall back onto that guaranteed prettiness: she’s an audacious and discerning songwriter, quite experimental in her arrangements. Stromata finds her at her most daring. There are gloriously electrifying rock songs like “Stromata” and “Civilized,” and more restrained and effortlessly smooth numbers like “Drip” and “A Hopeless Attempt.” She shows her impeccable and rare tastes for percussion on “Cut The Cord” and “The Dance,” with a beautiful ebb and flow of vocal tracks and instruments including high heels, milk jugs, and cardboard boxes.
Other songs are more strange and disorienting - “Little Universe” with its fluttery beats and constantly morphing rhythm, the short operatic interlude “Just Before Dawn,” and “Four Walls,” which could be a big pop song but, adorned as it is with chilly nighttime electronics, ever-so-slightly offbeat, has an even greater effect. The final note, “Redeemed,” acts as the final hope at the end of all its darkness.
The album moves beautifully, fluidly, both an instant charmer and a lasting favorite.
- The Dance
- Little Universe