April 8, 2009

ele Music Review & Photos: Charlie Mars – “Like A Bird, Like A Plane”

Every once in a while, a musical gem slips through the music business machine and emerges as an independent success… an album ripe with musicality, fantastic heartfelt songs, and the feel of a great cohesive piece of art.

I would like to introduce you to Charlie Mars and his latest album “Like A Bird, Like A Plane”.  This album is addictive and an all-around solid release. In fact, I usually toss aside singer-songwriter albums with ease, because frankly I get really bored with them and I get sick of hearing artists whine about relationships. However with this Charlie Mars record, there’s something special going on. It’s more of a band record, cohesive and comes across as a whole rather than a collection of singles. Maybe it’s the yearning to bust through his previous record label associations with an independent record or maybe just new creative energy flowing, but either way, Charlie Mars has released one of my favorite records of the year.
The grooves on this record are deep and really addictive. These aren’t singer songwriter songs, these are some sexy tracks. For instance,  “Meet Me By the Backdoor” is somewhat scandalous and the groove is infectious.  And then there’s “Listen to the Darkside”, extremely catchy and one of my favorite pop/rock songs of 2009… of which the music video will be released this summer starring none other than “Weeds” TV star, Mary Louise Parker.
Also, where did he find this band? They really make some magic happen. After talking with Charlie about it, apparently they decided to really loosen things up and make the album about the feel, the groove, and the vibe. Well, the band accomplishes this with incredible dexterity. Billy Harvey’s guitar bounces and sparkles in melodic musical runs, Ginty’s organ jumps alive, and drummer J.J. Johnson provides some serious rhythms that really hold the entire record down.
The second half of the album is anchored by “The Only One”, an uplifting song going right at the tendencies of the human heart. After spending some time with Charlie in March, I learned that he has quite a strong personality that is very direct and can be somewhat blunt. Some people may get offended at the racy stories he tells on stage, and his demeanor could possibly seen as overly confident. However, it is this direct way of communication that makes “The Only One” such a great song and Charlie a great songwriter. He’s not posturing about someone who needs hope, he’s speaking directly to it. Mars sings, “Don’t go thinking that, believing you’re the only one. People have a way of taking your heart and seeing it through, so if you’re stuck in a corner and you’ve got nobody fighting for you… don’t go… Don’t go thinking that, believing you’re the only one, the only one that wants you”. I like this lyric because it’s simple and communicates a deep truth effectively… and the melody is so memorable.
My favorite tracks are the previously mentioned “Meet Me By the Backdoor”, “Listen to the Darkside”, and “The Only One”  as well as “The Heart of the Summertime”.
Also, Check out the photos above, which I shot in March here in my residence of Nashville, TN.
Photos / Writing by Rusty Ralston.
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