Charlotte Turnbull is an R&B singer songwriter from Surrey, England. She lists, amongst her influences, Aaliyah, Tori Kelly, Chris Brown, Alicia Keys and Frank Ocean.
For many, she first came on the radar as a contestant on the The Voice UK last year. Now, however, she’s back in the eyes of the music listening public via debut EP, Making My Way, which was released on Thursday, July 14.
The opening track, “Making My Way”, produced by Luca, opens with piano, a piano of clanking finality. There’s a vague sense, though, of hope. Like a dark, eventually come good romance, or something. The singing is intense, self-assured and a tad sensual. Wayward synthesiser lines are like what the West Coast used to pump out back in the Nineties. Rattling and clapping drum definitely gives this track a sassy attitude. There’s space for the vocals to breathe, just light percussion amidst that wayward synthesiser line.
“They Be”, featuring Pep, is brooding and a tad creepy. The arrangement is sparse and laidback, but still vaguely scary. Like being in a nightmare that doesn’t use cheap scare tactics to have you spent. Maybe there’s a hint of overcoming fear and horror, jumping hurdles with mustered bravery. The hook is haunting, too, indeed. Things slow down a notch in the closing moments, emphasising the rat a tat of the drum.
“Over&Over”, produced by Earl Fernald, is an acoustic number with clicking finger percussion. Very earnest and heartfelt, yet, in a paradoxical way, it’s very light and breezy. Like, if you will, being able to speak your heart with alarming, though ultimately satisfying, candour and ease. Tinkling piano fades out the track.
Then comes “You Are”. It begins with thumping bass drum, pounding like an oncoming dancefloor filler. However, you’re lead astray and the tempo of the song proper is much more reticent, taking you places you weren’t anticipating. A clever use of dynamics, canny and a tad deceptive. Speaking of dynamics, there’s a subsequent vocal refrain, everything dropping out so you can hear the words, however brief those are. The effect being like an electric shock, those words very much sticking.
“Share My Feelings” produced by HedJet, has squidgy space bass, pumping funk on a generally very soulful track. The vocal arrangements are curious, layered and washing over the listener. Hi-hat aplenty drum is the heartbeat of the track, so much so they’re given room to breathe with the vocals before the bass kicks back in. This one definitely best displays the heights of Turnbull’s range, soaring, dainty and, so much so, a sense, in a way, vulnerable.
Closer, “Sundown”, is how you’d expect such a title to sound. There’s a certain melancholy, like being gutted the end of the day is on the horizon. However, hope fills the heart at the thought of the possibilities within the grasp of a new day. Chords of piano convey a certain sadness, simple but diverse enough in its emotional eloquence. On the other hand, that clapping drum and the vocals tell you different.
The latter, really vibing with the backdrop, gets soulful and a tad histrionic. A vocal solo, if you like. So much so she delves to convey her heart and soul above the melancholy, soaring through the skies and stars, and almost urging the sun to set and rise, again, of her own volition. This almost conveys her willpower, how she can urge on and will such seismic cycles. Very cleverly named, you could say.
You can definitely take something from each track on this EP, even if just to see and acknowledge the range of influence and style on it. Opener, “Making My Way”, for instance, can please many of whom who like gangsta rap, especially with those wayward synthesiser lines.
Maybe horrorcore fans would also appreciate the creepy vibes of “They Be”? Perhaps aficionados of many a genre would appreciate the candour of “Over&Over”, which expresses sheer, heartfelt emotion in such a breezy and effortless manner. Those sun kissed strums of the acoustic guitar certainly aided that effect.
Moving onto the second half, “You Are” is quite satisfying and challenging. You heart that thumping beat, and you assume a floor filler is about to commence, however, it’s taken in a completely different tangent. “Share My Feelings”, on the other hand, carries on where “Over&Over” left off, equally, perhaps more, earnest but far more passionate and letting rip with those higher register vocals. “Share My Feelings”, indeed.
Finale, “Sundown”, though, is definitely the standout track. How it conveys such sizeable things in the realm of our existence, like sun up in the morning, and sundown in the evening, isn’t a tad too far from breath taking. Remarkable, really, as it makes for challenging listening. Not only that, it really transports the listener, perhaps, to places outwith physical reach and means; maybe an evening on the beach, watching the sun submerge into the ocean.
Charlotte Turnbull provides a fair span of different styles to convey her relative versatility as a musician. She’s also keen, at times, to surprise the listener, and not just making her way down well-trodden musical paths. She also clearly put much thought into the song titles, and how they interacted with each piece of music.
Charlotte Turnbull’s Making My Way EP can be bought from iTunes here.
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Words by Andrew Watson