Published Jul 13, 2016I first heard of Montréal singer Charlotte Cardin when she swung by Toronto's the Garrison for Canadian Music Week earlier this year — and I was floored.
The centrepiece of that set was one of the few songs she'd yet recorded and released, and it was the reason I attended the set. "Like it Doesn't Hurt" is a masterful display of songwriting, with a melody so perfect that the track requires little else but electronic claps, jazzy, Rhodes-type keyboard and a subtle, reverse-effect synth. Live, just as on record, Cardin's smoky, billowing voice sounded effortless but hung thick in the air, and the sparse instrumentation gave her plenty of space to fill with it. When I search hard, I still can't find an answer for why it isn't currently charting, being performed by Cardin on TV and playing from every radio station.
"Like it Doesn't Hurt" is the best song on Cardin's debut EP, Big Boy, but it speaks to her consistency as a songwriter that there are plenty among the other five here that compare. "Dirty Dirty" comes closest, a bluesy, lovelorn tune that evokes Amy Winehouse while floating effortlessly between her head and chest voice in the song's chorus. The two French-language songs here are particularly strong, as well: the previously available "Les Échardes" has a bouncy lilt that plays up its French flair, while single "Faufile," a powerful, straightforward ballad, ends the EP on a sombre but strong note.
Ironically, it's title track and EP opener "Big Boy" that proves the weakest cut here; it's hardly a "bad" song, but its jazziness feels just a little too campy and out-of-time amongst the more detached, electronic-tinged songs here. But anyway, that's a small concern here. The overall message Big Boy conveys is the same that "Like it Doesn't Hurt" did: Charlotte Cardin is ready for bigger stages. (Cult Nation)