design: Megan Gersch
\r\nphoto: Erin Russell Photography
\r\nimage © Test-Drive Songs 2011\r\n
Charlotte Martin Reviews:
Piano Trees (2009)
Something Like a DVD Bonus CD (2007)
Spring Tour Reviews (2006)
On Your Shore (2004)
In Parentheses (2003)
Test-Drive Songs (2002)
Charlotte Martin Interviews:
Interview (Something Like A DVD) (2006)
Interview (Stromata) (2006)
Interview (Darkest Hour) (2005)
Interview (Buffalo, Hartford) (2005)
Interview (On Your Shore) (2004)
click for Charlotte Martin's MySpace
photo: Marcus Hewson
image © Test-Drive Songs 2011
(04 February 2011) Singer/songwriter Charlotte Martin once again proves her mettle in her latest release, Dancing on Needles (Test-Drive Records (USA) CMD001, 2011). After overcoming a nerve disorder called Intercostal Neuralgia developed after supporting the weight of her baby son, Ronen, Charlotte put her heart and soul into creating a powerful piano-driven array of songs. This album is an amalgamation of her medical struggles over the past year, and she has constructed poignant reflections of these experiences and delivered an emotional home-run.
Most of the album was written while she was in the throes of her illness. Her opening track, "Any Minute Now," seems to capture the sorrowfulness of her situation with a staccato approach to the music. The crisp piano and vocal delivery set the tone in the tension and build-up of the melody. As always, Charlotte's layered vocals are beautiful. "Volcano" shows her determination "out of this mess" and the music certainly reflects the uncertainties and pain. There is an ethereal quality and eerieness in this piece.
Charlotte's signature forceful piano-driven melody in "Truth Cerium" exhibits strength and humility, as the song discusses trying to remain in control. The driving beat of the title track, "Dancing On Needles," balanced with the swirling discordant tones is masterful. The listener is caught up in the emotional foray and the continuing pulsating beat.
In "Animal," Charlotte said, "I didn't know how to find myself as an artist and a mother at the same time. Now, I do. I never wrote about Ronen until I hurt myself. I hurt myself holding him. "Animal" is about loving him so much that I didn't put him down. I let him lay on my body for a year, and I smashed my nerve. It was hard to write about, but that's what happened. Getting injured as a parent is very common. Ronen kept getting bigger, and I stayed the same size. One day, it just didn't work out. He's wonderful, and I'm in love with him." This sweeping and dramatic song touches the heart, not only with the gorgeous, flowing melody, but with the passionate lyrics.
Simple piano accompaniment creates a gentle atmosphere for "Life Vest." Charlotte's moving and gentle singing crescendo to display her magnificent vocal range. Sentiment is easily stirred in this emotive recognition of endless love for her child. The sweet sounds continue with "Tremble" where again, the chorus propels into a driving force that keeps getting tamed back until the final climactic ending. "Starlight" has an electronic edge and seems to incorporate a steel drum sound. The flowing and exquisite vocals have a wonderful clarity and allure.
There are many discordant piano tones in the gritty "Ready For a Flight." The cacophony of sounds creates the setting for the jarring emotions and struggle of the situation. The music reaches into the darkness and grips the soul. A change of pace follows with her lush ballad, "Complications." Beautifully layered vocals and luscious instrumentals abound in this track. The excitement continues with "Language of God." This percussive-laden song intensifies throughout with an hypnotic beat and keeps climbing to a magnificent ascension.
The album closes with the lilting "Weird Goodbye." Charlotte said, "I could never find a home for "Weird Goodbye. Through the years of being in the music business, you work with about a billion people, and you think they're going to be your best friends for the rest of your life. Then, you never talk to them again. I personally get emotionally invested in people and want these relationships to keep going, and they don't. Through my injury, I lost a couple of close friendships. They were with people who just didn't understand. I wasn't functional, but you couldn't really see it. I could still stand up and talk to you. I guess I would've gotten more understanding from these people if I would've broken my legs and been in the hospital, which by the way, I would've preferred since that heals a little bit better than nerves. However, this song essentially encapsulates that."
No one captures emotion better than Charlotte Martin. This album is the culmination of a year of pain and anguish with an illness that the listener shares in this emotive musical journey. Dancing On Needles tugs at the heartstrings, draws on a range of feelings from gritty determination to touching sentiments. Charlotte does not fail to please with her expertise in poetic musicality. This album is truly a standout and a tour de force.--Audrey and Russ Elliot in New York