(22 September 2007) The middle of 2007 was a quiet time for Charlotte Martin. In the wake of promotional activity for Stromata, we noted a silence. As the summertime came to an end, and in conjunction with the never say never tour that began on September 23, 2007 and concluded on October 21, 2007, Charlotte released the eleven track collection Reproductions (Echo Field Recordings (USA), CMR-0018, 2007). The album was mixed and mastered by Ken Andrews.
The album was originally thought by some to be an album of cover tunes based on its selected title. Actually the recording deals with a much deeper subject and an unbelievable closeness to Charlotte personally. It includes a range of cover tunes as well as reworked recordings of earlier tracks considered rarities. The result is a well-produced project of great music that has allowed the artist to cope with one of the most significant emotional subjects a young woman may ever endure. The photos by Peter Dawson that comprise artwork for the digipak completes the story. Charlotte has dealt with her loss sensitively while delivering another oustanding recording to her loyal lister base. Watch this video for more detail.
From the rhythmic opener "Angel," Charlotte's ability to effectively cover the Massive Attack tune with layers of vocals and diverse electronic instrumentation, the material draws listeners into the album theme. The thickly arranged and darker tune "Obstacle 1," originally performed by Interpol, is nicely produced on the album. We found the arrangements a bit over the top. Charlotte's unique and lovely treatment of K D Lang's "Constant Craving" is a heartfully delivered ballad that permits the artist's voice to climb to the very front of the arrangement. Layers in the choruses add great texture to the standout piece.
The studio recording of a long time concert favorite is Charlotte's cover of Pearl Jam's "Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town." The studio recording is as dramatic as Charlotte's live performance, not only in illustrating the power but equally the range of the singer's tremendous voice. Equally enjoyable is the studio recording of another live favorite, "Chocolate," originally recorded by Snow Patrol. Additional vocal layers and arrangements complement the tune wonderfully.
Charlotte's cover of New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle" permits the artist to explore a denser level of electronic instrumentation without detracting from solo and harmony vocals. Here both arrangements and vocal delivery clearly evoke the song's theme. We especially admire Charlotte's cover of the Cocteau Twins tune "Cherry-Coloured Funk." The dramatic combination of Charlotte's own vocal style with both Cocteau Twins-derived arrangements and Elizabeth Fraser vocal stylings at the upper end of Charlotte's extensive range works remarkably in this album standout.
Enthusiasts will appreciate the bravery Charlotte has demonstrated across her career thusfar. She conquers new territory with her own dramatic cover of Sinéad O'Connor's "I Am Stretched Out On Your Grave." The challenge of combining her own voice with elements of O'Connor's sound demonstrates Martin's vocal viruousity. The album continues to please by drawing on previous on stage songs with its delightful new studio rendition of Joni Mitchell's "Urge For Going" performed in a more traditional Charlotte Martin style.
No Charlotte Martin album of covers would be complete without a new recording of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven." A longtime audience favorite is tremendously produced singer alongside percussive piano with crystalline and evocative vocals soaring tenderly yet powerfully across her vocal spectrum. The album concludes with "Song To The Siren" originally performed by Tim Buckley. Listeners will especially appreciate Charlotte's classically trained voice as it glides everso gently above keyboard washes and percussion in this tremendously produced and delivered closing track.
Charlotte Martin has indeed delivered to her audience. In Reproductions, the artist has selected a balance of material to create a timeless album of beauty and substance. She continues to grow from strength to strength without even a slight pause for the most significant adversity. The CD is available from Charlotte Martin's website and on tour. Downloads are available at popular online outlets. An artist that must be seen live to fully appreciate, we can count on further outstanding recordings from Charlotte Martin. Bravo!