Charlie Marie releases EP

“I’ve tried so many things / To find the one I’ve been missing / Where there’s nowhere else to go / There’s always a bar down the road,” Charlie Marie sings in her signature smoky style in the song “Shot in the Dark,” from her new self-titled record coming out this coming May. In her vocal, the emotive nuances of a backwoods poet come seeping through every syllable that she emits. Marie is singing with all of her soul in her latest EP, and her performance has got critics from one side of the country to the next talking at the moment.

Charlie Marie has a much beefier mix compared to her first record, but I would say that it’s not nearly as assaultive as some of the more surreal releases I’ve heard from country bands like Roses and Cigarettes have been. The mix is used as a means of getting us as up close and personal with the textures in the music as we can, without getting lost in the swirl of sonic discord that is transpiring inside of these intricately composed harmonies. It’s not the cerebral wallop of Echoes and Silence, but it’s still got some show-stopping capabilities.

BANDCAMP: https://charliemarie.bandcamp.com/

The vocal track is a bit domineering in “Countryside,” and makes it rather difficult for us to fully appreciate the lush string play that it’s layered over. Granted, this is a song that was constructed with Marie’s singing at center stage, but I would have preferred for the guitar parts be just a little bit more pronounced in the master mix than they ended up being. The same can’t be said about “Rhinestones” or “Playboy,” which have wonderful equilibriums between the fretwork and the lyricism, and I think that those two songs actually exhibit Marie’s skillset a lot better as a result.

Marie’s style of writing has evolved enormously in the last few years, and in “Rodeo,” it’s definitely at the most relaxed state that we’ve ever heard it in. There’s not a lot of urgency in this EP, but I would have to argue that this is precisely what makes it such a fun and enjoyable listen, even after a couple of dedicated spins. We never get the feeling that any of this material was pieced together on a whim or in a last-ditch effort to fill out the tracklist; if anything, all five of these songs have what it takes to be individual singles in their own right.

I’ve got to see Charlie Marie live at some point in the near future, and hopefully she’ll come through my town while the tracks that we hear on her latest release are the staples of her setlist. There’s been so much talk about the postmodernity of country music in 2019, but I don’t hear anything of the kind in Charlie Marie. There is no spacy breakdown in “Playboy,” nor any existentialist spoken word in “Rodeo” or the star single “Rhinestones.” There are, instead, rollicking rhythms, glaring country grooves and the occasional harmony that will haunt your dreams like few others will this spring.

Michael Rand

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