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Charlie Marie – S/T
Genre: Country and Western
Genre: “Rodeo,” “Shot in the Dark”
While the world loudly obsessed (and justifiably so) over Kacey Musgraves’ tremendous slice of futurepop GOLDEN HOUR last year, the only thing I took pause in was realizing that this new version of Musgraves meant that the classic country western pastiche that she’d perfected on PAGEANT MATERIAL was gone. Charlie Marie’s bonafides make her perhaps more equipped to lean into that vintage crooning than Musgraves ever was, her voice beautifully nailing that regional lilt and the music aching but simple, slick but timeless and immediately appropriate next to artists like Patsy Cline or Loretta Lynn. Marie’s self-titled, five-song EP bookends with its two most uptempo romps, including the dusty yet fierce woman-scorn opener “Rhinestones” and the driving, finger-wagging hoedown “Playboy,” both of which begin and end the record with some energy. But Marie’s voice, just like Cline and Lynn before her, excels in mid-tempo ballads and empty dance floor waltzes, and the meat of the EP finds her doing a great job of riding comparatively minimal production by giving tremendous and heartbreaking vocal performances—“Rodeo” especially sees her voice dueting with the teary bliss of the pedal steel, and it leads to the best song on the EP. Both the homesick “Countryside” and closing time farewell “Shot in the Dark” similarly position Marie as a light in the darkness. Even if these songs could probably take on the regalness associated with Cline or Lynn with a bit of orchestral groundwork laid or simply denser music, there’s something incredible about how sparse the songs feel at times. For those looking for some solid classic-sounding country, look no further. Stream CHARLIE MARIE on Bandcamp.