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REVIEW: Charlie Melrose @ The Brunswick, 13/11/2016

The Verse’s Tamara Stidwell reviews Charlie Melrose’s EP After Midnight, played live at its launch at The Brunswick on the 13th November.

The Brunswick pub was bustling with fruity faces and proud family on Sunday as eclectic and erratic Charlie Melrose launched her brand spanking new EP After Midnight. Like the supermoon about to brace the skies, Charlie’s outlandish style emanated the gravity of something bigger.

The night played out as such: the lights dimmed low, the chatter of friends and family quietened down, the piano began to tap and from some deep corner of the room the soulful hungry soprano of a young fresh Winehouse filled the air.

The first track of the EP The Beast That Beats There is an upbeat groove-driven, ridiculously dance-able track. The crowd swung their hips as a glittery Charlie slithered onto centre stage and “burned to conspire” of talk about a beastly ex. With a true spirit of blazing honesty, the lyrics are autobiographically raw. “It’s a cold, cold place that empty space in your chest” she sings as the piano energetically accompanies each harmonic of her “funny little valentine” (like Charlie Kunz on ecstasy).

The second track on the EP is undoubtedly my favourite: Be Like The Man. It’s Etta James making love to an electric guitar. Beautiful riffs sliding into the moody lyrics of what it means to be a woman. “If only I could think like the man” she belts out with true feminist vivaciousness, then dropping down into soft and silky harmonics; “I know we are stronger” she sings as the saxophone undulates. This track is very sultry and yet teeming with energy, you could hear Be Like The Man on the radio and sing it for days afterwards.

Each song effortlessly flowed from track to track as Charlie used her feisty organic humour to lead on; “I wrote this song when I was sat with my mate Ad and we were having the worst comedown of our lives”, onto the next track Sisters, Mothers and Brothers. Building up with a slower tempo, jilty guitar leads into the chorus of jazzy percussion. Sisters, Mothers and Brothers is a playful, childlike and funny tune, referring to being reprimanded for taking naughty substances by “Mumma” putting her “on the naughty step”. With Charlie’s Amy Winehouse style, her themes become less cliche and more cheeky.

“With all the bad stuff going on in the world let’s make this a room with lots of love in!” Charlie emphatically cried as she introduced the next track Flesh and Bone. Slipping into the dreamy guitar chords of bluesy jazz, Charlie’s soulful voice questions why “some are more worthy of love that the rest”. This track is a 2016 ballad to all the ways of the world. The development of the chorus is built up by the gradual layering into the drums and percussion. I will “love you as if you were my own” she sings; this song is heartfelt and does exactly what it aims to, build up love not hate in the world.

Finally, the last track of the EP Tinderella blags a ska rhythm, clashing drums and upbeat reggae jazz vibes. It’s a melting pot of builds, drops and funky beats and the audience loved it, dancing to the tales of a lost “creature of the night”, “left on Brighton beach”. The energy in the room was tangible as people threw their heads into the air and let loose. A great end to the EP.

Charlie Melrose sings about clichés: the coffee on a comedown, the disastrous boyfriend, the hugs not hate needed to overthrow Trump. So with these apparently generic themes, what makes her new EP After Midnight so unique? It’s the passionate and recurring theme of the ‘dangerous place’ of the ‘fucked up brain’ that makes it gritty and frankly funny.

Charlie reaches out to the people and delivers a stylish parable to life in this day and age. And as for stylish, she knows where her style is, it’s all about the temptation, the tease and the swing from soul to jazz. Charlie Melrose is a performer, a truly passionate overzealous performer. She owned the small Brunswick stage that night, mastering each track with phenomenal harmonics and impeccably attuned timing. The pretty purple album is well worth a fiver, and I wish I’d got it signed – this singer is one to watch!

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