The cover of Charlotte Carpenter‘s latest EP, Shelter, sees our heroine sat opposite a pint of bitter which may or not be hers (I bet it is!). Interestingly, the glass is half full…or perhaps it’s half empty? The answer to this perenial teaser is probably a closely guarded secret but key to understanding the pro-genesis behind the 4 track EP and the current state of her psyche. Look more closely at the EP cover and you will see her face split in two, subordinate to the outside light, whilst wearing a pink t-shirt under a black leather jacket and sat beneath a half and half window. The message seems uncomplicated, this is an EP of contrasts; either that or I’m reading waaaaay too much into matters.
Carpenter is arguably the most interesting Northampton export since Carlsberg opened up their brewery and her own particular brand of bluesy-rock goes down just as well with a packet of dry roasted peanuts. Not many artists are courageous enough to admit being inspired by a trip to a motorway service station (apparently ‘Shelter‘ conceived during one such visit) but then Charlotte Carpenter is no run-of-the-mill artist.
The title track percolates with a cinematic throb which provides the perfect bedrock for Carpenters’ robust vocal delivery; this is a marked progression from her previous offerings and demonstrates an artist who is growing in confidence and self-belief. Some may scoff, but there are echoes of Portishead‘s Dummy album throughout the track, a disturbing sense of the macabre mixed with a sense of impending doom. Previous single ‘Fire‘ is included here; it’s a full-on rock romp which could easily have featured as the soundtrack to a late-70s road movie and, once again, offers a contrast in pace to the rest of the EP.
The remaining tracks hint at the flip side to Charlotte Carpenter, showcasing a pencant for a delicate vocal with minimal musical intervention. ‘Hey Mr Cowboy’ comes over all spaghetti Western with an effortless strum complimenting a laconic vocal; if they ever re-make Pulp Fiction then this track is a necessity. Finally, ‘Lately’ signs off the EP with a ludicrously simple stab at my heartstrings; it feels as if the track was written in 5 minutes flat on the back of a fag packet but I bet it wasn’t.
None of this answers the question of whether her glass is half full or half empty but mine is positively overflowing. Catch her on tour now before she starts on the Diamond White trail to super-stardom.