Singer-songwriter Charlotte Carpenter has built up a reputation as ‘one to watch’ following support slots with artists as diverse as Marika Hackman, George Ezra and country star Hunter Hayes.
How Are We Ever To Know E.P. is a five-song offering on Carpenter’s own label, Let It Go, which nicely showcases the different sides to her musical personality. Opener ‘Am I Alone In This?’ blends PJ Harvey-style (think Dry-era) minimal guitar with a country twang, the vocal sweet, yet simultaneously slightly menacing, as the track builds from its sparse beginnings into a more muscular creature as it goes by.
‘Burn’ is a quietly affecting song which most brings to mind Carpenter’s previous touring partner Marika Hackman, while ‘Contracts’ effectively uses just a simple guitar line and vocals to introduce the track, while the words “If you’re gonna leave me babe/Then my heart ain’t gonna stop,” sound like they would comfortably fit into a Shelby Lynne song. The track develops to a dramatic climax, effectively bringing in organ, drums, and bass.
‘Electric’ channels Metals-era Feist and is another strong track; Carpenter understands that sonically less is often more and resists the temptation to pour on unnecessary instrumentation or sugary production and the songs breathe well as a result.
By the time the final track, the soul-baring slow-burner ‘Last Love’, finishes, it is clear that Charlotte Carpenter could be on the verge of making an album with the potential to cross over to a much larger audience. It will be interesting to see where she goes next.