November 02, 2004


Charlotte Martin.jpg

Patience is a virtue for Charlotte Martin

The demise of a record label can be a crushing blow to an artist on the verge of releasing a debut album. When Charlotte Martin went through such an experience, the setback, while disappointing, didn't automatically toss her back into the giant pool of struggling, unsigned acts.

Singer-songwriter-pianist Martin signed a deal in 2001 with Bong Load, perhaps best known for releasing Beck's "Loser" single. She recorded an album titled One Girl Army, but as Martin remembers, "funding for the label fell through, and right in the middle of a tour being booked, they shelved the record because the label went under."

"I worked on the album for a year," says Martin, who studied music at Eastern Illinois University before moving to Los Angeles. "It was for me and for this label -- no one else was gonna put it out. It's sad to watch your work kind of go up in flames and know that it's never going to see the light of day."

But there was light at the end of the proverbial tunnel -- a deal with RCA Records that Martin had signed before Bong Load went under. However, releasing One Girl Army on RCA was out of the question.

"The songs [included on Army] aren't shelved, but the recordings of them are," she says.

Martin's first RCA release was 2003's In Parentheses, a four-song EP. That was followed by the album On Your Shore earlier this year.

This ballad-dominated disc includes a reworked version of the song "Something Like a Hero," which Martin had recorded for One Girl Army. Drummer Joey Waronker, whose credits include albums by R.E.M., Smashing Pumpkins and Richard Thompson, is among the supporting cast of musicians. Martin's version of The Rolling Stones hit "Wild Horses" -- featuring just her voice and piano -- is included as a bonus track.

Although Norah Jones and Vanessa Carlton have enjoyed recent success with a similar piano-led approach, Martin doesn't see herself as part of any conscious movement in music.

"I think it's a coincidence, not a revival," says Martin. "There are lots of male piano players, too. I don't think it's a scene; I just think it's really cool that a couple more women are getting popular, and they just happen to play piano."

-- By Chris M. Junior

Official Charlotte Martin site:

Charlotte Martin on tour (dates subject to change):

Nov. 2: The Chance -- Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Nov. 3: The Stone Pony -- Asbury Park, N.J.

Nov. 4: Webster Underground -- Hartford, Conn.

Nov. 5: Olin Theater at Bates College -- Lewiston, Maine

Nov. 6: Elms College -- Chicopee, Mass.

Nov. 8: The Odeon Concert Club -- Cleveland

Nov. 9: 20th Century Theatre -- Cincinnati

Nov. 10: Newby's -- Memphis, Tenn.

Dec. 2 and 9: The Hotel Café -- Los Angeles

Posted by medleyville at November 2, 2004 11:36 AM