Charlotte Day Wilson Creates New Hues on 'Cyan Blue'

BY Nicholas SokicPublished May 1, 2024


Charlotte Day Wilson stands out among the coterie of modern torch singers in part because she has largely self-produced her music, including three EPs and her 2021 album debut, Alpha. It gives her tales of loves lost and found, her future doubts and hopes, a potency that stands out among other lovelorn singers. Despite a closer partnership with previous collaborator Justin Rochon, Cyan Blue, her XL Recordings debut, doesn't lose any of the singularity Wilson brought to previous projects.

Take the spare but impactful piano ballad "New Day," where Wilson dreams of being a queer mother in a rapidly crumbling world, but already mourns the fact that the child cannot be genetically related to both parents. "Will we build a surface / strong enough to last?" she sings. The song is surrounded by wistful, slightly haunted apparitions of both present and future, but it avoids defeatism — catharsis comes from her repeated invocation of the title, transformed to be the name of her unborn daughter.

"New Day" is emblematic of the album, as it's concerned with the circularity of these external and internal relationships — past, present and future racing toward each other endlessly as if in a particle accelerator. The result is an album that can find inspiration and even mutual celebration in a relationship's end without becoming a simple recounting of grievances hoisted upon the wronged party. 

Wilson's exploration of this line of thinking is most resonant on songs like the glitched piano ballad "I Don't Love You," backgrounded by a looping iPhone demo running through its own endless cycle. Here, the chorus reads like a mournful kiss-off, but her verses reveal an equilibrium, and the hope of a mutual championing as the pair part ways. There's also album closer "Walk With Me," its spacey, swirling production held together by the hi-hat's dictation. Here, she sings a nostalgia-drenched dream of a years-later meeting with an ex, full of specifics that allow it to become universal.

A bout of intense self-reflection is never far from Wilson's mind, as even on the most direct "fuck you" track, the smooth bounce of "Canopy," she nonetheless ends with a penetrating question: "When the light comes through / Am I the same as you?" Here, and throughout the record, she locates an emotional power in vocal restraint, refusing soaring athleticism that would only distract.

Naturally, the title track is the thesis statement, though this time the relationship under the microscope is between Wilson and her younger self. The past, the future, the liminal, the real, love and hate and endings and beginnings all collapse in on each other — On Cyan Blue, it all happens all at once, over and over again, each time in different hues.

(XL Recordings)

Tour Dates

Latest Coverage