Charlie Marie is rad. And while that’s not a descriptor I’d normally use, in the case of this blossoming Nashville singer-songwriter, it fits.
In a genre where some of its most popular artists continually trumpet the theory that country music must evolve, Marie is unabashedly traditional. She proudly stands on the shoulders of those who preceded her, staking her musical identity on timeless content in place of trends. She reminds listeners that drama can be found in domestic life. Perhaps most importantly, her restrained yet soul-lifting sound demonstrates that less can in fact be more.
Reared on classic country, Rhode Island native Marie embraces a stripped down style reflective of her musical influences on her affecting self-titled EP. Tasteful accompaniment is provided by guitarist Rob McNeeley, and Paul Mabury’s (Jason Crabb, Chris Tomlin, Building 429) sparse production places Marie’s evocative voice and songwriting squarely at the forefront of the five-song set. Yet while she self-describes her sound as retro, it would be foolish to dismiss Marie as an imitator of the past. By lovingly referencing the sound of her idols, she emphasizes how time-tested subjects like loneliness, yearning and regret are equally pertinent in the present.
The narrators Marie voices offer up warts-and-all confessions without shame (such as admitting a preference for a dead-end relationship over a total lack of companionship in “Loveless”). They readily admit to shortcomings, yet never resort to outright whining. Throughout the EP Marie and her co-writers (Cindy Morgan, Amanda Renkel and Rose Falcon) highlight the complexity of women without relegating them to stereotypical roles.
I’m always intrigued by artists who make music that’s close to their hearts, and Charlie Marie appears to be pursuing hers.