review of 'Veins' - the new EP - fall 2005

C h a r l o t t e   M a r t i n

Taking A Walk In the Darkness Never Sounded So Exciting
A Review of Veins, the new EP by Charlotte Martin
by Jules for
23 September 2005

Veins, the new EP by Charlotte Martin, is a journey, a progression, a pounding meditation on feelings and emotions that are inside and outside and shared. It sounds techno/industrial even, and yet very organic. It's the perfect mix of all of the above and entirely Charlotte Martin. The lyrics hurt but they don't leave you in pain. The EP touches on relationships, the love, the pain, the fears, the uncertainty and how you can find that strength in you to power through. It starts with the blood pumping through your veins, and all the emotions and feelings that makes your heart pound. This collection of 8 songs takes you on this journey of the soul and leaves you feeling very much alive.

The drumbeats that introduce the title track of 'Veins' pump the latest EP by Charlotte Martin like lifeblood through the body. It's the perfect beginning, powerful, driving. It's a wall of sound. The lyrics to 'Veins' build the body of this EP, like a good preface to a really awesome book. Starting with the lyrics (always the amazing lyrics): 'the life come back and force through my veins/ it goes it goes/through protons, neutrons, securing the frame...' It's the signs of coming back to life and feeling. 'Securing the frame.' I love this song. It's totally addictive, those drumbeats and the lyrics that just flow to an acceptance of the pain in life, the craziness that is in everyone, 'hallelujah, i've come undone.' Charlotte goes there in this song, to that darkness, to 'the catacombs and revolving doors inside of my brain,' to the undone and it's like all these emotions and feelings and frustrations touched upon and expressed. It's cathartic. And Charlotte's greatest instrument, her voice, has never sounded stronger.

It's like the flood gates open with 'Veins' to a whole lot of blood and guts. :) To darkness and light and every emotion in between. 'Veins' is followed by 'Bones,' a gentle almost lilting sounding song. It sounds like a meditation on non-communication, miscommunication and regret, the 'rumblings' of something going wrong. 'Say it like you mean/ mean it like you said it to can't tear us apart cuz there's nothing to mend.' It's like this is the song you would hear in your head if you were sitting with someone you can't quite reach emotionally but you're there nonetheless; the emptiness that you feel. Does that make sense? That's what the song sounds like to me. 'Second chances are slipping off the cliffs of this defeat.' I love that lyric. It's just so beautiful in it's sadness. Charlotte has quite the way of making the saddest of lyrics sound just gorgeous. 'When it hits me, you go raise these bones again/ And I wish that the rumblings, it could shake me til i'm still.' This song hurts so beautifully.

From the soft, pensive 'Bones' comes 'Under the Gravel Skies' this. song. It's a headbobber. :) The slow, heavy, bassy sounding guitar and the heavy bass drumbeat just reminds me of The Cure and Depeche Mode at their most deliciously somber. :) The beat is awesome, kind of heavy and it just sounds so cool. It's definitely the 'heaviest' sounding song on the EP. 'Out of the black pools/ I've risen up above/ Cuz i still love you/ i've risen up, i've risen up above.' It's just wonderfully dark and gothy, I love it! The mixing on it is cool. Sounds like love lost and yet not forgotten. Sounds like holding on. Charlotte's voice is interesting in this, still beautiful and Charlotte but there's a hint of this really, i don't know, awesome howl, this airy darkness that sounds like someone dazed and on the edge, to it that is awesome, so strong. I love the slowburning kind of intensity of this song. Ahhh. :)

Then comes 'Four Walls' (hello. quite possibly my favorite track on the EP!). Oh my god. I love this song so much! The intense, driving techno-sounding beat that I love is in full effect and used to perfection. It's the kind of music I love listening to all rolled into one. It's like the sound of the beat belies the darkness of the lyrics. It's perfection. The tight beat, the intense, emotional lyrics that speak of wanting to reach someone and the determination to reach them, even if it means going into that uncertain darkness yourself. Wanting to make things better and maybe realizing that you have no idea of what will make it better. But you're there nonetheless and there is this awesome song. :) The lyrics tell the story: 'so far from you/ other side of the wall/ there's a bottomless cry that's spinning.' And the driving, strong chorus: 'gonna feel my way around you/ and then you're gonna get down on your knees/ grow accustomed to the darkness and see what you're supposed to see/ head up straight i know what i'm doing...head up straight i know what i'm doing...i don't.' Getting through it with uncertainty. The song is like falling...that kind of rush. It's wrapped in this great beat and melody and these really awesome lyrics of pain and acceptance. 'Passionate times, misguided trust. Getting to love the little beast.' One of my favorite parts of the song is at the 2:42 break it...freaks me out, it's so AWESOME. It's Charlotte on the piano decrescendo-ing amongst the up-tempo beats. 'In this waiting elevator's down.' Charlotte just makes walking blindly into the darkness so exciting and a complete head-rush...and alright, not so scary. The lyrics are completely relatable. Who hasn't tried to reach someone they love and go into that dark place with them to try and help? It can almost be a companion to 'Darkest Hour' another amazing song, only with a shift in perspective. Love it. Oh and you can totally dance to this song. Totally. I'm just saying. :)

After Charlotte hits you with the darkness, the heaviness (whether it be in the lyrics or the beat or the melody of the first four songs), she gives you a second (or 2 minutes and 24 seconds) to reflect and ponder with a beautiful instrumental called 'Cars on Crescent.' It's Char on piano and it's lovely, pensive, meditative. It could be the sister of 'The Flood' from the Darkest Hour EP, with what sounds like cars driving by as Char plays this tune that starts somewhat dark, somewhat ominous and then moves to a lighter sound, moving back and forth as it mixes with some ethereal sounds. Just gorgeous. I love it like I love 'The Flood'...which means that this track should be about 10 minutes longer. :)

It's like there's a second part of this EP right here...'Days of the Week' is Charlotte and piano and that is always a great combo. It's back to the basics, and this song reminds me of the Beatles for some reason. I don't know why! But it's a great song that sounds lilting, like the feeling of waking up and the morning...great placement on the EP after the heavy, almost dark quality of the other songs. Such an interesting way to present the story of a person that is just slightly paranoid and obsessed and dramatic. It's such an imaginative song, so simple and yet...not. The stories that are created, what happens through the days of the week, the self-destruction. It's like hyper-sensitivity to the 'light' (after the darkness). Over analyzing (like what I'm probably doing with these great songs! lol, so much there!) and being paranoid that something is wrong, a way of running away from what's wrong in your own head by losing yourself in the every day: 'we might be out of soap or real communication/ and all the tricks my little brain plays on my nerves/ they need to end/ i tend to get real bored with my own head to make you care.' Once again, the 'sadness' of the lyrics and the feeling of the song belies the almost upbeat, light, lullaby quality of the piano. Pain and self-destruction never sounded so good. :)

The EP's studio songs end with 'Root,' an older song that never quite made it on any previous album but is most definitely a Charlotte song and I'm happy it made it on this EP. It rounds out the EP quite nicely. A song where the lyrics and the up-tempo piano join...and it is victorious and triumphant in it's reflection of life (and maybe even this EP) and how those lost are never really gone and knowing your self worth ('i need too much to need this') and the acceptance that life goes on and 'you walk through weeds just to make a never think that you'll run out of time...the root still grows further than you know...' It's making it through and living every day to the fullest and on your own terms, learning from hindsight and experience. Look closer, there's more going on. Older and wiser and stronger...there is always hope.

The extra track is a gorgeous live version of 'On Your Shore.' That song still gives me chills and is a great epilogue to the whole story of 'Veins' EP. All this inner struggle and pain leaves Charlotte and the listener 'on your shore...and barely alive.'

But then you listen to the EP again and you're definitely alive again, with 'the life come back and force through my veins'...Veins's blood, guts, love, loss (physical and mental) and life. It's perfection and I am awed by this latest project by Charlotte. Just wow. I hope everyone gets to some Charlotte shows this fall, during the Veins Fall Tour, and picks up this EP. It's awesome, amazing and just fills you up. 'Food for your soul.' I absolutely cannot wait to hear these songs live. It is an emotional journey worth taking because Charlotte speaks to the soul intimately, intensely, personally and yet universally. You can easily find parts of you in this EP. I love that. This EP is connection, for those 'seeking passages and food for your soul.' That's what Charlotte's music is. So fill'er up. Make "Veins" your "Veins." :)

(all photos on this page by Erin Russell)