Singer/songwriter Charmaine's career has had somewhat of a resurgence in the last few years. While 2010's surprise masterpiece Love Reality never took the charts by storm, it reintroduced Charmaine's name into the CCM pop scene with a certain class. At the same time, aside from a guest spot on Jonathan Thulin's eventual #1 hit "Dead Come to Life," not too much else happened between then and now, but the independently-produced Love Somebody EP releases with hopes to change that.
For the unaware, Love Reality came out of nowhere, and what made it so special was Charmaine's fresh approach. It was a symphonic pop sound that didn't really compare to anyone else's methods, taking its own time to develop itself over the course of the album and making an artistic statement in the process. While Love Somebody EP stays true to Charmaine's trademark sound, there seems to be an invisible source trying to hurry things along faster than they should. Especially with "Love Somebody" and "Play the Song," the EP feels rushed along, and these tracks don't seem to value themselves enough to let their atmospheres fully develop. It's not to say that the tracks here aren't still well delivered as they are, but they count for less on a shorter, bite-sized project compared to Love Reality's epic quality. Seemingly, this project is over barely after it starts.
The opening title track definitely feels the most like a single from the standpoint of song structure, playing it just a little too safe with a dry chorus ("Then You change it all when you love somebody, love somebody, love somebody, love"). It doesn't set the EP quite on the right course, but looking at the four songs as a whole, Love Somebody EP is still a noteworthy pop project because of its uniqueness. There simply just isn't anyone making the same kind of pop music like Charmaine, and sometimes that's enough to legitimately stand out. The synths and vocal effects are distinct (with even a well-timed saxaphone on "Empire") and do feel like a direct result of Charmaine's creative trajectory, albeit with a sometimes chaotic effect. Charmaine never relies on technology too much, however, letting her powerful and soaring vocals take the reins on "All the Lights" and "Play the Song." "Empire" ends up being a fiery finish to the short project, allowing the song's sheer force to take the listener captive until the final few notes.
To call Love Somebody EP a disappointing record would be pretty unfair; the project's solely a Charmaine creation without extraneous bells and whistles, and it gives a lot more effort than most pop projects. While Love Reality set the bar quite high for Charmaine's work, and although a four-song EP after a quiet four years feels a bit underwhelming, the time is right to see an artist like Charmaine see another breakthrough. Love Somebody EP is a more than worthwhile release, and here's hoping that there's only more to come from this best kept secret of Christian music.- Review date: 6/15/14, written by Roger Gelwicks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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