Album Review: Charlotte Hatherley – New Worlds

By on Friday, 2nd October 2009 at 12:00 pm
 

Charlotte Hatherley LP coverYou probably know Charlotte Hatherley best for wielding her guitar for and lending her vocals to alternative band Ash. (That Ash song ‘Grey Will Fade’? Yes, Hatherley wrote that.) What you may not know: she began her solo career in 2004 and is set to release her latest effort, ‘New Worlds’, later this month. The first track on the album, ‘White’, hit the British airwaves earlier this year and impressed me enough to do further research on Ms. Hatherley’s new music. With a sexy bass line and yearning vocals, it wraps you in a blanket of warmth, whether you’re with that special someone or you’re currently in a state of melancholy looking for that someone.

Then the album sweetly oozes into ‘Alexander’. This one should hit you like an arrow through the heart if you’ve ever fancied someone and thought if you knew more about this person, things would sort themselves out, but for reasons beyond your control, this was impossible. Everyone can relate to this longing for someone unattainable. Hatherley implores the subject of her song ‘take off your layers / and show me Alexander / what kind of dreaming you do behind your innocence‘. GULP. It’s an emotional lump-in-the-throat moment.

But thinking that these two mellow songs were representative of the whole album would be a mistake, because it moves into completely different territory from that point on. Variety rules this album. Title track ‘New Worlds’ is a ’80s-esque track that is poppy and boppy and might turn you off if you bought the album to find more lovey-dovey ballads like ‘White’ or ‘Alexander’, or if you were looking for a balls-to-the-wall kind of rock album. ‘Straight Lines’, ‘Full Circle’, and ‘Colours’ fit this bill, with their sultrier guitar and bass lines with sexy vocals from Hatherley – rocker girl chic, if you will.

Dancehall reminiscent ‘Firebird’ sounds almost otherworldly, as does the simplistic ‘Cinnabar’ – these were the only two songs on the album I felt were missteps, feeling oddly emotionless. Why? Hatherley’s voice is unique in that it’s melodious enough to be paired with nothing but an acoustic guitar and some soft instrumental backing but also strong enough to stand up against heavier rock stylings. You want to be able to feel Hatherley’s emotions coming through her vocals, you want to feel what she’s feeling.

Charlotte Hatherley’s third album, ‘New Worlds’, will be released on 19 October on Little Sister Records.

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