I first met the artist I’m going to talk about today at a gig she was playing in Islington, London. She had left my uni the year before I started, she won a scholarship to study songwriting there. And I have spoken with her many times since then. The first thing I noticed about Charlotte Campbell was that her calibre of songwriting was top notch and her bubbly personality shone through when she was on stage. Amazingly she captures this positive energy on her recordings as well. On Friday Charlotte released her sophomore album “Making Waves” and celebrated its launch at The Monarch in Camden surrounded by friends, family and fellow street performers. Today I’m bringing you a review of the new album!
The opening track says a lot about Charlotte, “Streets of London” talks about busking in London and pride in where you’re from. Charlotte can often be found on the Southbank entertaining Londoners and tourists alike with chart covers as well as her original material. The upbeat beginning gets us right into the swing of things with beautiful lyrical ideas set to a traditional band instrumentation and I love the stripped back bridge in this song. Then we are taken into “Share Your Love” which begins with a delicate piano melody in the intro, but I think my favourite part of the song is the pre-chorus which features the line “Teaching me ballet, to keep me on my toes, show me how the next step goes” before it goes into a catchy chorus. Then we hear a guitar riff coming out of the chorus which acts as an instrumental post chorus and in the last chorus we hear Charlottes vocals raise slightly, showing off her belting abilities. Charlotte Campbell’s vocals throughout the album are consistently on point and bright, matching the lyrical themes of the songs she’s singing, I could listen to her vocals all day!
Now I’ll be honest, at first listen I wasn’t sure about track three “Matala” but after hearing it a few times it has become one of my favourites on the album! It starts off with a sparse instrumentation and gradually builds which is effective. The group backing vocal chants at the end of the chorus are a fantastic edition to the song and the use of strings in this strengthen the arrangement. I like the concept and lyrical ideas behind “Tell Me I’m Right” the fourth track on the album, the lyrics are detailed and I’m drawn to the instrumentation on this one, it just seems to really complement the song well and the chorus is one big hook however this is just the support act to the headline act in the form of “Songbird” which follows. I’d already heard Charlotte play this song on a number of occasions and its a great song live but the recorded version is even more powerful. Again it gives us an insight into Charlottes personality and her love of music! This song could be a hit in the charts, I’m so glad she chose to put it on her album!
The album is heavily dominated by acoustic guitars and “Balconies” is no exception to that. its in this song we hear Charlottes more softer, delicate side which hints at a blossoming summer romance in the lyrical content. It sounds like a very intimate song and instantly became my favourite on the album, it was also a nice touch hearing a slide guitar in the chorus’ reminds me of a Country song! Then we hear a different side to Charlottes music “If She’s an Angel” is a little more edgier and angrier than previous songs on the album so far with sinister sounding quaver guitar stabs to open, but I guarantee you’ll be singing the chorus after the first listen! I like the lyrical switch in the bridge “I’ll be somebody else’s Angel” and the Electric guitar throughout the chorus’. “Little Voice” is on the contrary, soft and playful with the xylophone, complementing the lyrical content nicely “Do I have to play by the rules” and the addition of the Organ is a nice touch.
“You only ever look back on what you didn’t do and I don’t want to look back on never having you” this is a fantastic line from track 9 “Safe Harbour” and the Backing Vocals are a key part of this track especially at the end when it is stripped back to lead vocals, call and response Backing Vocals and Drums. Its a nice arrangement which really allows space for Charlottes vocals to blossom. “Princess Hair” the penultimate song on the main album brings the Organ back into the mix and my favourite part of the song is the bridge, surprising as I was once told that Middle 8’s and bridges were the hardest part of a song to write but Charlotte has no problem with this and has nailed everyone she’s written on this album. “Angus” is a great way to conclude. I’m not too sure why but it reminds me a little bit of a Duffy song. The arrangement is simple but beautiful. The album then sees us out with two acoustic versions, one of “Streets of London” and “Songbird” is the other. I’m glad Charlotte chose these two to put on as I think they’re possibly the two best songs on the album so its great to hear them in a more authentic, stripped back form.
All in all I think the whole album is fantastic and definitely the progression from her debut album to this latest masterpiece is evident, she’s certainly maturing as a writer whilst keeping her quirky, bubbly personality shining through in her writing. I must say if I bumped into Charlotte playing on the Southbank it wouldn’t matter how cold it was or how much it was raining, I would have to stop and listen for a while and her music would certainly brighten up my day a whole lot! I look forward to hearing more from Charlotte and don’t forget to get your copy of Making Waves from the following links!
Just Zoe x