Rhinestone cowboys sometimes glitter so brightly in the sun, it’s hard to see beyond the surface. You can play dress up easily, put in some pedal steel – does that make you an authentic country artist? And then there’s the complicated debate about artists combining country with pop and hip hop. To be honest all this arguing about ‘what makes you country’ often just ends up giving me a headache. What I do know is that I just really want to hear great songs and a great singer, whatever genre. Of course I admit I have a soft spot for vintage sounding country music and am always looking to support artists who honestly embrace that style. Charlie Marie hails from small town Rhode Island, which might be far from Nashville but her music is comfortingly familiar classic country.
The opening track Rhinestones was inspired by Dolly Parton and her famous quotation about how ‘it’s hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world’. What’s a real jewel and what’s false can often be hard to tell, so it goes in relationships too. Charlie Marie uses many of the traditional tropes of country music sound and lyricism but she does something distinctive and even slightly subversive with them, which is refreshing.
Rodeo and Shot in the Dark are Pasty Cline-esque ballads, and it’s no surprise that Charlie Marie grew up listening to her music. She channels these vintage influences into the warble of her voice and her honky tonk style.
Stand out song Countryside has the catchiest melody on the EP and the lyrics are on point, showing her eye for detail and insight. A ‘countryside’ is a feeling, a way of seeing the world. It’s about appreciating the simple truths of life, whether you’re from Rhode Island, Tennessee or Glasgow – everyone has a ‘countryside’ they should embrace.
Final track Playboy has sass and attitude – she isn’t afraid to play the cowboys at their own game. There’s a little rock and roll potential in this one too, a side to her music which might be worth beefing up further. At this point you only wish to hear more songs, maybe even a cover or two but alas the EP format is frustratingly short and sweet.
Overall this is a really promising introduction to the twang and talent of Charlie Marie. Keep your eye on this cowgirl, she’s definitely going places.