American singer-songwriter Pearl Charles delivers on this shiny collection that reflects her love for vintage 1970’s soft rock with an indie contemporary feel to it.
Written by: Dave T
ARTIST: Pearl Charles
ALBUM: Magic Mirror
LABEL: Kanine Records
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Pearl Charles – vocals, percussion * Connor ‘catfish’ Gallaher – backing vocals * Connor ‘catfish’ Gallaher, Lewis Pesacov, Michael Rault – guitar * Connor ‘catfish’ Gallaher, Max Hart – pedal steel guitar * Connor ‘catfish’ Gallaher, Lewis Pesacov, Max Hart, Michael Rault, Drew Erickson, Farmer Dave Scher, Mitchell Yoshida – keyboards * Matt Popieluch – banjo * Bradleah Mac, Stewart Cole – horns * Magic Mirror Quartet – strings * Dustin Bookatz – bass * Ryan Miller – drums, percussion
TRACK LISTING: 01 Only For Tonight * 02 What I Need * 03 Imposter * 04 Don’t Feel Like Myself * 05 Magic Mirror * 06 Slipping Away * 07 All The Way * 08 Take Your Time * 09 Sweet Sunshine Wine * 10 As Long As You’re Mine
LA born 30-year-old singer-songwriter Pearl Charles started her career with The Driftwood Singers, a country duo that released a 2010 EP called Look and a self-titled full-length album in 2012. In 2013, she joined garage rock band The Blank Tapes as drummer for a couple of years.
Blank Tapes’ founder Matt Adams produced Pearl’s 2015 eponymous debut EP that included the fantastic single ‘You Can Change’ (you can stream it from SoundCloud here).
Being a drummer is not the only common point Pearl has with Karen Carpenter. The late singer of the Carpenter siblings is also one of Pearl’s main influences. Just listen to her Carpenters‘ ‘Superstar’ cover version from 2016 here.
Pearl’s debut album Sleepless Dreamer followed in 2018. ‘Magic Mirror’ is her second solo full-length album, released on January 15 2021.
Being a fan myself of shiny soft rock in the vein of The Carpenters, Fleetwood Mac and Carole King, I’m happy to hear those influences here, plus some references to Laura Nyro, albeit more in spirit than musically.
The first surprise comes in the form of opener ‘Only For Tonight’, a bouncy tune with a clear reference to ABBA‘s ‘Dancing Queen’ on the upbeat piano lines. Not a proper disco tune plus Pearl Charles adds her own velvety touch to the vocals. From here on, the recording takes a different yet captivating route. ‘What I Need’ and the slightly funky ‘Imposter’, with a strong presence of pedal steel guitar and electric piano/horns, respectively, blend indie pop with soft rock.
The wisely orchestrated and arranged ‘Don’t Feel Like Myself’ is where the Karen Carpenter-inspired vocals thrill up to the very fibers. The same goes for the deeply moving title track, a gorgeous piano ballad of epic proportions mainly for its sheer, beautiful simplicity, as contradictory as it may sound to the reader.
‘Slipping Away’ would make both Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty more than proud. ‘All The Way’ is strongly rooted in the sunny Californian soft rock of the 1970’s while the acoustic-guitar-driven, country-flavored ‘Take Your Time’ has a nod to the Steve Miller Band‘s kind of psychedelic rock.
Perhaps my favorite of all the songs on this collection is ‘Sweet Sunshine Wine’ in which classic soft rock vocals, upbeat rock instrumentation and guitar lines that clearly recall the solo work of one George Harrison gather in an uplifting, highly addictive tune.
The album rounds out with the soulful ‘As Long As You’re Mine’ featuring Charles captivating vocals surrounded by warm layers of electric organ plus a horn section. In politically correct times like these, lyrics such as ‘It doesn’t matter that there’s rockets flyin’/fires burnin’/the water’s risin’… as long as you’re mine’ sound refreshingly alternative.
The best I can say to describe ‘Magic Mirror’ is to quote what my friend and fellow writer Malcolm (Explorer) said to me when I shared the first song with him: ‘Wow, is it really from 2021? It’s got that late 70’s vibe going on’.
I’m currently on my umpteenth spin and I’m still discovering new nuances to the songs. This is clearly different to the bulk of recordings we usually cover at GloryDazeMusic. However, I believe ‘Magic Mirror’ will delight at least a few regulars here as it has done with me.
Should you have a fondness for classic soft rock, then Pearl Charles ‘album is most of the time uplifting with a slightly modern twist to it, give it a try. You have nothing to lose and perhaps much to gain.
Only For Tonight
Sweet Sunshine Wine
Don’t Feel Like Myself
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