Ellen Cherry Charles is not, though the name would imply otherwise, a singer songwriter, but a husband and wife team from Seattle. The husband Paco Jones, has been making his name playing shows amongst the Seattle scene since 2007. Paco wrote the music and the words on Ellen Cherry Charles’ debut The Cherry Orchard, and his wife Lara Jones, provided the vocals. The Cherry Orchard however represents the couple’s first collaborative musical effort, with bass on several tracks provided by Scott Pierce who recorded his bass lines remotely.
Much of The Cherry Orchard has an ambient electronic and rather rhythmic feel to it, with Lara Jones’ vocals coming with hushed and yet crisp delivery. She doesn’t so much sing the lyrics so much as speaks them like lines of poetry. The album's eerie and melodic opener “Truth to Power,” Jones vocals are delivered in breathy whispers, that beckon the listener like a siren's call. Next on “Hollywood” her vocals get a little boost from a bit of reverb or delay that give them a slightly computerized feel.
Ellen Cherry Charles take a break from ambience on “Nostalgia is for Losers (I Heart Nostalgia)” a see saw of buzzing synths and Pierces thumping bass lines. Here Jones puts a little anger and power into her vocals, deepening them. Ellen Cherry Charles cite Pink Floyd as an influence and this comes through rather clearly by way of the slow, watery guitars and bits of piano on “Northedge,” and perhaps even more so on the quiet expanse of “Come Home.”
This quietness is then interrupted by the short and sweet but sharply loud and electric buzzing guitars of “Perfect” and continues on into the slow and jarring builds of the industrial sounding “6 Sheets of Sound.” The album continues its multi genre swings this time landing in lo-fi folk-fuzz territory on the wonderfully put together “The Days of Mayfield High.” It was this sound that I wanted to hear more of.
Perhaps I’m just a traditionalist but I tend to find that albums that flirt with too many different genres end up becoming like a collage that has a few too many pieces pasted into it, or a painter who has painted a few too many strokes onto a canvas. There is much to applaud on The Cherry Orchard, it is sometimes a jarring listen as the songs don’t always flow together very well, and it seems the only thing holding them together is the sound of Lara Jones’ voice. Recommended.
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