We review Charlie Hole’s EP, ‘Dirty Little Secret’, ahead of his launch tonight at The Garage, London.
Five songs long, ‘Dirty Little Secret’ starts as it intends to finish: not holding back, Charlie sings about topics ranging from political corruption to the testing of faith and believing what you’re told, rather than thinking for yourself.
Title and opening track, ‘Dirty Little Secret’, from the POV of a whistleblower, discusses whether or not it’s worthwhile blowing open the hidden places for the sake of freedom:
Waging wars that can’t be won/It’s lonely when you’re on the run/From nothing but the voices in your head.
Looking back through beads of sweat/Knowing things I can’t forget/Wishing that I did not pull the thread.
The truth has set you free/But not for me, not for me/I’ve lost it all.
Out here in the cold/I’ll never see my children/I’ll never see my children/Growing old.
But in the end, the whistleblower does it for the sake of freedom of others – those very children they won’t see grow old.
‘Make It Better’, also touches on faith, on a better life, and tells the story, accompanied by a tender piano, of a woman wanting to escape from an abusive relationship. But she’s buoyed by the thought that she can do it, she can make it better:
You know that if you raise your head/You can make it through the rain/And you’ll find love, you’ll find love again.
Charlie Hole is only 23, and one wonders what his life has been to be able to write on such topics. Case in point, song 3, ‘Chapel of Unrest’, has a country feel to it, not just musically but lyrically, with its storytelling style, the tale of people living lives based on the ideas of others rather than making their own decisions, and thinking for themselves. How has Hole developed such wisdom to be able to write this way?
Last year, when asked in an interview on here with Pat Dooner, what artist, living or dead, he’d like to write a song for, Hole said:
I’d love to hear Johnny Cash do one of my songs, his interpretation of those songs on the American series before he died was some of the best performances of songs I’ve ever heard.
It’d be incredible to know what Cash would think of songs such as ‘Chapel of Unrest’, or song 4, ‘Unlit Flame’. Using Biblical allusions in this song, as he’s done in many of his other songs, his lyrical acumen is extraordinary:
“One of these days/I will see your soul radiate/I will see you roll your stone away/But until that day/I shall remain/An unlit flame.”
This is our favourite song on the EP: the fingers sliding along the strings on the guitar’s fretboard; Charlie’s voice marching in time to the music, and his soaring vocals on the chorus. Lyrically (and sometimes vocally) he reminds us of Australian Country Gospel singer songwriter, Steve Grace, who similarly sings songs from the heart. It’s a song of joy, of new life:
Out of the darkness/Into the light/Up through the surface/I’ll watch you rise.
Final song on the EP, ‘Animal’, finds Charlie Hole channeling Ed Sheeran. A soft, gentle song, with the singer seemingly having lost direction, wondering which way to go. He is chiding himself about the decisions he’s made.
Lance Freed, Chairman of Rondor/Universal Music Publishing in Los Angeles, heard Charlie Hole’s music and said “I’ll sign him but he has to finish school first!” Charlie finished school. He got the record deal. So far as we can tell from this album, where he is now is in a very good place, and the future looks very bright indeed.
Catch Charlie Hole at the following:
1 March, London, The Garage (‘Dirty Little Secret’ launch event)
March Tour Dates With Callaghan:
Thu, 3 UK, Derby, The Venue
Sat, 5 UK, York, The Basement
Wed, 9 UK, Edinburgh, The Voodoo Room
Thu, 10 UK, Manchester, Fallow Cafe
Fri, 11 UK, Totnes, South Devon Arts Centre
Mon, 14 UK, Birmingham, The Sunflower Lounge
Wed, 16 UK, London, The Forge
Fri, 18 UK, Ramsgate, Ramsgate Music Hall
Sat, 19 UK, North Lincolnshire, Kirton in Lindsey Town Hall