Pearl Charles – Magic Mirror
Pearl Charles sprinkles a little bit of alternative wonder to the start of 2021 with Magic Mirror. As Taylor Swift recently reiterated the calm versatility of the genre through her folklore and evermore releases, Charles capitalises on the high demand for soft piano tunes and slow contemplations. The record is a mesh of familiar 70s and 80s soundscapes with musical traces of Z-Berg and Sylvan Esso, and the production exhibits layers of vocals to add dimension to the American singer-songwriter’s shy delivery.
Only for Tonight opens the album, channeling echoes of ABBA punctuated with happy haunts and harmonies. It’s whimsical and relays the foolish sentiments of a groovy one-night fling. What I Need follows in a quirky start and flaunts clever lyricism of words unsaid, pretenses and a try at honesty. This slips comfortably to the next song Imposter. Reminiscent of city sounds with blues and jazzy undertones, this third entry perfectly blends simplistic production and breathless vocals. The tune emphasises self anxiety through euphemisms while still acknowledging one’s own fault in a relationship.
Magic Mirror is a lonely ballad: a bittersweet melody carried by the stripped-back acoustics of the piano. As the titular track, it sums up the project’s overarching theme of identity and adeptly encompasses the record’s instrumental makeup. Take Your Time falls back into the motif of intimacy. With its lullaby-like sway and nature-centred lyrics, it delivers a psychedelic effect through minimal production. Sweet Sunshine Wine – cheeky and mischievous – expresses a flourish of innocent love, coupled with the charm of inexperience and bashful flirtation.
Returning to a cityscape ambiance, As Long as You’re Mine is a relaxing and slow end to the album, juxtaposing the fast pace of the opening track. Still, it continues with the subject of love, only this time it’s a long-term romance, as showcased by the heavy emotion made casual by its cool tones and assured delivery.
Overall, the tracklist covers the exploration of the self and embraces the process of searching for it. The structure uses themes of love and relationships to frame identity. Questions around what one wants versus what one needs and others’ perceptions of who one is are embedded into each song regardless of the main subject, constructing an answer to this recurring topic. Overall, Pearl Charles’s latest endeavour is a nice, easy listen with modestly familiar themes that are a little average in the grand scheme of the alternative genre.
Photo: Shawna Schiro
Magic Mirror is released on 15th January 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Pearl Charles’s website here.
Watch the video for Imposter here: