wears the trousers magazine

charlotte hatherley: new worlds (2009)
October 12, 2009, 9:33 am
Filed under: album, mp3, review, video | Tags: , , ,


Charlotte Hatherley
New Worlds •••½
Little Sister

Charlotte Hatherley’s musical career to date has been well documented: rocking in the grunge influenced outfit Nightnurse by 15, she was plucked from obscurity to become the fourth member of Ash at 17, discarding her A-Levels and a normal life to do so. When she left Ash in 2006 to pursue a solo career, it seemed a bold move on the part of someone who had some serious guts to go from being in a successful and established ‘day job’ to going it alone. However, what isn’t so well documented, and which has only just recently been revealed, is that it was actually Ash who asked Hatherley to leave, wanting to return to their trio status. So this somewhat changes the perception we have of Hatherley; she went it alone full time because she had no choice, not because she was gutsy. Although her first solo album Grey Will Fade was released while still in the band, subsequent works are now more than a side project created while on a winter break. Now the solo work is the day job.

Hatherley has long been famous by association, from Ash to opening for Blondie, to playing guitar with her hero Bryan Ferry, to touring with Client and more recently with Bat For Lashes, as well as contributing to The International Noise Conspiracy album Armed Love. With New Worlds, she has finally become an artist in her own right. This is a stronger and more self-assured album than 2007’s The Deep Blue, where, in hindsight, she was still finding her solo feet and somewhat sinking or swimming having been literally thrown in at the ‘deep’ end. Water-referencing opener ‘White’ leads a newly red-headed Hatherley swimming out from those depths and into a new, more confident persona. She may not be the strongest vocalist, but Hatherley’s belt sounds much more convincing this time around, particularly on the latest single ‘Alexander’ and the magnificent album standout ‘Straight Lines’, on which she gives Talking Heads a run for their money.

Her collaborators on New Worlds may include a star line up of Rob Ellis, Luke Smith and Alan Moulder, but the album is all Hatherley, who now has a direction and a definite style. Taking its cue from guitar-led indie but still defiantly pop, the sound is fresh, bold and devo, with overtones of XTC. She’s no Amazonian Courtney Love but Hatherley holds her own, packing sufficient punch to be decidedly all up in our faces. Elsewhere, electro-fuzz takes over the guitars on ‘Full Circle’, and ‘Little Sahara’ is unashamedly arty in its ambitions. On the latter, her proclamation of “I’m feeling so accepted” is reflected in the confidence that carries the album. And while you get the sense that Hatherley has still yet to reach her full potential, New Worlds is a strong step forward, and one most definitely in the right direction.

Stephanie Heney
UK release date: 19/10/09; www.myspace.com/charlottehatherleyofficial

FREE MP3: Charlotte Hatherley, ‘Colours’




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