Frances Charlotte - Emerald
Tangled Records by Eric Nielsen 11.29.06
The first impression from this disc (recorded at Mission Studios in SD) is the voice. Frances in an instant will bring to mind Chan Marshall of Cat Power. If you like this feeling, you will probably like the disc. The title track sets the mood with Bjork-tinged trailing songs emoting an edgy, blue surrealism. Frances sounds like she has some experience in this. When I first heard this disc, I was drawn to the sound of her voice. That's still what drives me to put this music on. Even if you don't normally listen to singer/songwriter stuff, this album may draw you in like a fish on a line simply through her singing.
Though not as complex as some of the modern indy records, it does roll like gentle water following her voice. The compositions of the songs and the breaks don't shift much, as everything builds around the centerpiece of the vocals. The chord shifts and changes are reminiscent of some of the minor key pieces that float around in the SD indy scene.
Most songs are driven by an acoustic guitar played by Charlotte Austin aka Frances Charlotte. The guitar sound is very smooth and mixed a little low so that it moves and pushes the songs without being too on top. It's subtle and nice and round.
On her website, she mentions that she only has herself, and even though there is a list of six other people that play on the disc, it really feels like she is by herself. The simple subdued mixes with all instruments and vocals floating through a similar space invite you to a low place of self introspection. It challenges you through the slow rolling warm lake water to find meaning. Overall, the piece does connect in a passionate way like Frances' singing that rides on the chorus in Jeans.
It's a very relaxing listen, a meditative ride you find yourself on and it's a pleasant place to rest for a while.
You can youtube her name and find some of her videos there.