Singer/songwriter Charlie Marie is back in the news again this spring thanks to her most streamlined work yet, the self-titled Charlie Marie EP, which is becoming quite the topic of conversation among country circles in America. We open up with “Rhinestones,” the first track (and single) in the record, and slowly make our way through one illustriously arranged melody after another in the pendulous “Rodeo,” springy “Countryside,” contemplative “Shot in the Dark” and the hot to trot “Playboy.” The music never leads us through patches of predictability, and if you’d thought you had heard the best of Marie prior to now, you’re going to be taken aback by what her new EP has in store for all who give it a go.
With a little more overdrive on the guitars, “Playboy” would be an awesome slab of bar rock in the most southern of styles. As it stands on this tracklist, it’s one of the more effervescent country/pop swingers that I’ve heard this month. Marie has got a lot of rock n’ roll tenacity in her voice, and if it were outfitted with a stack of amplifiers from a slightly more boisterous backing band, I think it would sell just as well outside of the Nashville fan base as it has inside of it.
I wouldn’t change a thing about “Rodeo,” and that’s not something that I’m usually able to say as a discriminating music critic. While “Shot in the Dark” and “Countryside” have got a couple of kinks that I might have messed with behind the soundboard, “Rodeo” is so seamless, so striking, and so smooth that it might have made an even better single than “Rhinestones” does. Marie is so good in these slow jams that it’s hard to believe she’s only on her second record. She sounds like a seasoned player here, with more experience than most.
“Rhinestones” and “Countryside” sound like they were built for the stage. “Rhinestones” has a groovy little gallop that synchronizes with my heart every time I listen to it, and though “Countryside” delivers softer blows, it’s got just as much of a fiery melody driving it. If the presence that Marie has in these two songs translates well onto the stage, she’s going to find herself a very successful touring artist as the 2020s near closer. This unfiltered mix definitely makes it feel like we’re sitting front row at an intimate concert instead of listening to a mere studio recording, but I’m still aching to see the real thing in person.
There’s a lot of good music slated to debut in 2019, and there’s not a doubt in my mind that this EP is among the very best we’re going to hear out of country music in this quarter. Charlie Marie is no household name, but a record like this could go a long way towards establishing her moniker as one of the more reliable in the “New Nashville.” Her hometown of Providence, Rhode Island might not have the biggest reputation for turning out country stars at the moment, but in what I would ballpark as five years’ time, Marie could have something to do with changing that.