Published May 26, 2016Toronto's Chloe Charles has a distinct, curious rasp to her voice. The guitarist/singer-songwriter's musical approach is poised and urgent, with hypnotic notes of hope and melancholy. Traversing genre lines of jazz, soul, pop and folk, Charles' With Blindfolds On has a symphonic feel — see the effective opening confessional "Black & White" — that reflects a level of songwriting savvy that carries over the 14 tracks here.
Charles defines her sound as "orchestra soul pop," which is apt: there's a distinct Patrick Watson feel on "Tulip" before it goes all mid-era Motown on "Smiling." The quiet "Hold Me" has a folksy Tracy Chapman feel, the classical keys-driven "Be Still" is both ambitious and haunting and the reflective "We Grow Up" features love-it-or-leave-it vocal phrasings set to a pop soundtrack. The winsome "Take Me Naked" features well-written lyrics, even if a hook is perhaps an octave too high.
With Blindfolds On is an intriguing project from a strong artist who has thrown caution — and genre — to the wind to create an imperfect but emotionally resonant piece of work. (Independent)