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Charlotte Martin


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Mainstream and alternative poprock

Status:

Most recent release, Water Breaks Stone (2014)

See also:

Charlotte Martin's site

Charlotte Martin's MySpace page

Comparisons:

Her vocals and songwriting sometimes are quite Tori Amos-like

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Charlotte Martin has a strong, expressive voice and growing skills in songwriting. Her songs are mostly fairly conventional pop/rock songs but have odd, original twists and powerful hooks that make them rise above the ordinary. Her piano work has the same kind of inventiveness as Tori Amos (sorry, it's hard to escape the comparison as she has a not dissimilar vocal range and way of using her voice and as well has powerful rock piano playing). I agree with Karen below that her songs are sometimes more successful than others, but the bottom line for me here is that she's young and already has singing and songwriting chops way above the average, and never gives a less than nuanced performance. I think she has the ability to catch the ear of the mainstream and yet not bore listeners looking for something a little different. She's the more interesting Vanessa Carlton, the more mainstream Tori Amos. (Neile)

Melodic twisted songs with piano and loud guitars. I think Charlotte's youth shows through, the way she veers from conventional to Tori-ish, not always finding her place in between. (k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)

Comments about live performance:

I must put in a good word for Charlotte. I saw her play to a packed house at the Hotel Cafe in February and it was one of those rare shows where the first time you see someone live you are blown away. I heartily recommend any of you to go to see Charlotte Martin if she hits your area. She's a wacky girl, but has some excellent songs and a pretty rockin' piano thing going on. (4/03, paul2k@aol.com)

If you get the chance to see Charlotte live, do. I caught her as part of a festival—after not seeing her for a year—and it only took about 30 seconds before I remembered how damned good she is. (8/04, shrub@mac.com)

Recommended first album:

stromata

Recordings:


one girl army ep

Release info:

2002—test-drive records

Availability:

Limited release; no longer available

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for Charlotte Martin fans

Group members:

Charlotte Martin

Produced by:

Various tracks produced by Tom Rothrock, Charlotte Martin, Jeff Gerber

Comments:

This is a 6-song CD-R sampler.

I ordered this from cdbaby since the mp3 of quirky piano 'Raven' made it through several file deleting sweeps I made of my music folders. The rest of the ep was surprisingly standard to me, pop songs following the usual structure, some particularly catchy and melodic, others forgettable. Worth the money, but more something to listen to in anticipation of her developing further. (k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)

Driving, catchy tunes. A strong, pretty voice. Nice inventive piano and guitar work. Several really stick-in-your-head melody lines. Interesting production. Yes, Charlotte Martin shows amazing promise. (Neile)


test-drive songs

Release info:

2002—test-drive Records

Availability:

Limited Edition

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Charlotte Martin—vocals, piano

Guest artists:

Shay Godwin—drums, percussion
Hector Ferreiro—bass guitar

Produced by:

Charlotte Martin (1 track by Jeff Garber)

Comments:

This is an 8-track sampler.

This duplicates "Pretty Thing" and "The Girl I Left Behind" from One Girl Army, and adds a remix of "Raven" and 5 new songs. Of the five, a couple are slightly predictably structured and produced pop songs. "Talk to Strangers" is an especially interesting, catchy song that still has mainstream appeal. I recommend this particularly for Charlotte Martin's delightful, powerful piano work and her nuanced, passionate vocals. (Neile)

Thanks to whoever recommended her!! (onealien@mo.himolde.no)


In Parentheses

Release info:

2003—RCA—82876 53966-1

Availability:

Wide on release

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Charlotte Martin—piano, vocals, rhodes, electric piano, synth bass, drum programming

Guest artists:

Joe Waronker—drums
Justin Meldal-Johnsen—upright bass
Jeff Garber—synths, bass, guitars,
Tim Dow—drums
Ken Andrews—additional programming

Produced by:

Ken Andrews and Charlotte Martin (1 track by Jeff Garber)

Comments:

This is a 4-track ep to launch Charlotte Martin's mainstream career on RCA. "Your Armor" is a fairly conventional though well-structured pop song. "In Parentheses" is more adventurous structurally, with some edgy moments, and uses the range of her vocals more fully. "Pretty Thing" is more directly a pushing, edgy track, with especially edgy vocals and piano work (and because of these will remind listeners of some of Tori's best early work). "Monster" is a really nicely produced track. As always her piano work and vocals are passionate and exceptionally varied and interesting. Hear an extremely promising artist present herself to the world and just imagine where she can go from here. (Neile)

On Your Shore

Release info:

2004—RCA Records—82876 60676-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Charlotte Martin—lead vocals, backing vocals, piano, electric piano, rhodes, sample wurlitzer, sample harp, GigaSampler: Pad, GigaSampler: gamelon bells, pads, virus synthesizer, chant and scramble

Guest artists:

Joey Waronker—drum kit, tambourine, hi-hat, roto toms, stick, bells, shaker, timbales, ethnic percussion
Ken Andrews—bass guitar, drum programming, electric guitar, SFX, atmosphere synthesizer, backing vocals (4)
David Campbell—string arrangement (1, 4, 8), horn arrangement and conducting (10), cello arrangement (12)
Justin Meldal-Johnsen—bass guitar, bass effects
Craig Armstrong—string arrangement (3)
Jeff Garber—electric guitar (5)
Angus Godwin—drum kit, congas, chimes
Hector Ferreiro—bass guitar (9)
Larry Corbet—cello (12)
Beth Katte—backing vocals (4)
Scott Fraser—programming
Gavyn Wright—string leader, violin
Warren Zielinski, Dai Emanuel, Steve Jonathan Strange, Perry Montague-Mason, Liz Edwards, Rebecca Hirsch, Emlyn Singleton, Eddie Roberts, Jackie Shave, Julian Leaper, Iain McKinnon, Everton Melson—violins
Peter Lale, Gustav Clarkson, Zoe Lake, Tim Grant, Garfield Jackson, Don McVey—violas
Anthony Pleeth, Naomi Wright, Jonathan Williams, Dave Daniels—cello
Chris Laurence, Paddy Lannigan—bass
Warren Luening—cornet
Rick Baptist—flugel horn
Joe Meyer—French horn
Charlie Loper—trombone
Bill Reichenbach—bass trombone
Fred Greene—tuba

Produced by:

Ken Andrews and Charlotte Martin

Comments:

If you liked her earlier work you will like this—wonderful piano-based songs like Tori or Kate, some of the songs might even move Charlotte squarely into the ecto Fierce but Beautiful category. I particularly like the songs with background strings, or horns, there is even one song with gamelon bells. (tpierceint@yahoo.com)

For what it's worth (I'm biased!) I think it's an excellent album, there's a lot more production on it than any of her previous stuff, and the versions are very different to the live versions on archive.org ("Up All Night" has gone from a slow, sad one to an up-tempo pop song almost!) but there are also beautiful and simple tracks, of which my particular favourite is "Parade On". (mike.gray7@ntlworld.com)

I never really got into Charlotte Martin's Test Drive Songs. I liked some of it, but never listened to it much. Still, I was intrigued enough to pre-order her new album, On Your Shore. I'm very happily surprised. It's full of catchy piano-pop songs, and though the ballads aren't as strong as the up-tempo songs, there really isn't a weak song on the whole album. The sound is sharper, more beautiful and fierce (as Todd said), than her debut. I don't hear Tori that much in it, occasionally in the orchestration or in her piano phrasing. That's a good thing. It shows that while Charlotte has influences, she's no one's clone. (JoAnn Whetsell)

On Your Shore isn't grabbing me emotionally the same way the dark and dissonant six-track demo did when Dan [Stark] first mentioned Charlotte two years ago. I'm also a huge fan of Test-Drive Songs. The beginning of "Something Like a Hero" is closest to the "old" Charlotte. I'm liking "Every Time it Rains" a lot as well. (shrub@mac.com)

This is a mixed bag for me. I love the version of "Something Like a Hero" here, and the bonus track cover of "Wild Horses". The rest I find listenable when I'm in a pop mood, but it doesn't quite scratch my itch for songs that keep me intrigued—while her songs always have nice touches, they tend to move just a little too conventionally for my tastes. I agree with JoAnn that her up-tempo songs are more successful than the ballads. The more energetic songs play to her strengths. (Neile)

One of my top signed-artist discs of 2004. (amy@ecalos.com)


Veins ep

Release info:

2005—dinosaur fight records

Availability:

See Charlotte Martin's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Charlotte Martin

Guest artists:

Beth Katte—backing vocals
Emily Wright—cello
Justin Meldal-Johnsen—bass
Joey Waronker—drums

Produced by:

Charlotte Martin and Ken Andrews

Comments:

Okay, for me until now Charlotte Martin has been all about promise. I've gotten attached to much of her work so far but hadn't really been knocked out, and felt that she hadn't quite come into her own yet. There were multiple flashes of terrific things, but I've seen those in a lot of artists and wound up disappointed, especially the ones signed to big labels.
     Well, the Veins ep showed me that she really has broken through. These are amazing, intricate songs with all kinds of passion. The title track knocks me off my chair. "Four Walls" reminds me, in a very good way, of Kym Brown.
     This is terrific stuff. (Neile)

stromata

Release info:

2006—dinosaur fight records—dfr 0001

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly, highly recommended

Group members:

Charlotte Martin—vocals, keyboards, soft synths, drum programming, high heels, milk jugs, cardboard boxes, string arrangements, synth bass

Guest artists:

Ken Andrews—synths, drum programming, bass, guitar, trains, boiling water sounds and poppers
Joey Waronker—drums and percussion on "civilized" and "redeemed"
Emily Wright—cello on "pills" and "just before dawn"

Produced by:

Ken Andrews and Charlotte Martin

Comments:

A truly impressive disc, which includes some of the best tracks off the Veins ep. Her vocals are still somewhat Tori-esque, but at this point it's a quality of her voice and the flexibility and passion of her style that is reminiscent, rather than her being a clone of any kind, because here the songs and music are unlike anything Tori has ever done, and frankly I like them a thousand times better than what Tori has done in the last ten years. There's a lot of electronic influences in the music and this is all a good thing. The songwriting is powerful stuff. I would say this is Charlotte Martin's The Dreaming or her Boys for Pele. Dramatic, powerful, individual. A knockout album. The vocals! The songwriting—hooks and wanderings and experimentation! Charlotte Martin has grown up to fulfill all the promise in her early work. Wow. I find it really impressive and the stuff of obsession. (Neile)

Her best and most individual album yet. (JoAnn Whetsell)


something like a b-side

Release info:

2007—part of something like a dvd (2007—dinosaur fight records—DFR 0006)

Availability:

See Charlotte Martin's site

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Charlotte Martin fans

Group members:

Charlotte Martin—vocals, instruments, programming

Guest artists:

Ken Andrews—bass guitar (4)
Joey Waronker—drumms (4)
Fernando Sanchez—drums (8)

Produced by:

Charlotte Martin

Comments:

something like a b-side is an 8-track compilation disc that accompanies Charlotte Martin's something like a dvd. The DVD documents live performance, behind-the-scene tour footage, studio recording sessions, and fan interviews, and is something that most fans would want just for that. However, I particularly wanted it when I heard this compilation of previously unreleased b-sides (I believe all are from the Stromata era) was included. One is a version of "Four Walls" from Stromata but all the rest are new to me. These are fairly simply arranged, especially compared to the fullness of Stromata, but all have intriguing bits to them and as always, Charlotte Martin's powerful emotive vocals and her maturing songwriting. While they're not her most exciting work, any Charlotte Martin fan would enjoy these. I certainly do. (Neile)

Reproductions

Release info:

2007—CMR 0018

Availability:

See Charlotte Martin's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for Charlotte Martin fans

Group members:

Charlotte Martin

Produced by:

Charlotte Martin and Ken Andrews

Comments:

I have trouble figuring out what to say about this collection. She has chosen an interesting range of artists and puts her own stamp on them without stomping on the songs. My favourites are her version of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" and Joni Mitchell's "Urge for Going". I also like her version of "I Am Stretched on Your Grave", which means my favourite tracks come in a clump here.
     itunes also offers her cover of Kate Bush's "Cloudbusting" (terrific) and "Mission to the Moon" (a Terami Hirsch song!)(Neile)

Amy's review at her Collected Sounds site


Dancing on Needles

Release info:

2011—Test-Drive Records

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Comments:

Similar to stromata and the Veins ep, but with its own style. If you like those albums you'll probably like this one as well. (JoAnn Whetsell)

This is better than anything Tori has done the last ten years. Her sound just doesn't strike me as particularly original. It never has. "Animal" is great, though. (christina_skov@hotmail.com)

One of the best albums of the year. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)


Hiding Places

Release info:

2012—Test-Drive Records—CMH0022

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Charlotte Martin—piano, keyboards, drum programming, sounds, vocals and background vocals

Guest artists:

Ken Andrews—bass and strings

Produced by:

Ken Andrews and Charlotte Martin

Comments:

I really like Hiding Places, much more than Dancing on Needles, which I didn't entirely connect to. The CD has eight songs (three are acoustic versions of songs from stromata and Dancing on Needles). All are beautiful. The sound is less electronic and overall similar to On Your Shore and stromata.
     The DVD has twelve live performances interspersed with clips of Charlotte talking about her music and her life. Three of the songs are new, and two don't appear on the Hiding Places CD (the rest of the songs are from stromata and Dancing on Needles). It's not as essential as the CD, but it's a nice addition, especially if, like me, you've never seen Charlotte live. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Further info:

something like a dvd (released 2007) contains a mix of material that Charlotte Martin fans would love to have—especially the live video.

She does a series of limited-edition rarities eps that she makes available to fans, and sometimes tour-only eps.

Chalotte Martin also did a video for "elderly woman behind the counter in a small town" (from Reproductions): an interesting juxtaposition of images of the artist and a young girl similar in appearance scattered by intereference, the two of them floating in a beautiful, still lake, the artist playing with a kitten juxtaposed with wildlife images of cats and zebras. An intriguing illumination of the song.


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2014-04-27 19:57:50.
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