Charlotte Alden

@charlottealden

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Lennon Stella meshes her ‘Nashville’ roots with L.A. pop on debut EP

I went and saw Lennon Stella’s debut headlining tour, the Love, me Tour last month in Vancouver. As an avid ‘Nashville’ fan and a follower of Stella’s music since her first release, I was so excited to see her live. I have to say, I was a little wary to see her perform without her sister Maisy (although to my delight Maisy came out for one song towards the end of Stella’s set), but I was enthused, nevertheless. But as I left the concert, surrounded by a hoard of teenage girls gushing over Stella’s voice, outfit and stage presence, I found myself feeling sadly unimpressed. It’s not that her voice wasn’t good live – it was incredible. It’s not that her outfits weren’t cute – she looked much older than her nineteen years and was wearing a beautiful dress with the white go-go boots that looked like they came straight from 1964. The issue came in her stage presence. She just looked too young, despite the outfit, and too awkward to be headlining a tour. The stage was set up in a strange way, so that she was at the very front by herself, with her band at the very back of the stage. If she wanted to interact with the musicians at all, she had to turn her back to the audience. She did get lost in the music at points, which were the most compelling moments of the show, but throughout most of it she looked lost, like she didn’t know what she was doing up there. This seems like a result of a young artist being pushed to headline too early. The music is all there, as I’ll talk about in this review, but pushing a nineteen-year-old girl to command the stage like a veteran pop star seemed to be a bit too much for Stella.

Written by @charlottealden
May 08, 2019

Tug Of War: The Hidden Folk-Pop Gem Of Carly Rae Jepsen’s Past

Before “Call Me Maybe,” Carly Rae Jepsen actually did exist. Crazy, right? Some people know she was on Canadian Idol for half a second, but many people don’t know that she actually released an album right after that in 2008, before she ever became a pop star. This album was a little ten-song record titled Tug of War, written almost entirely by Jepsen herself and produced by Vancouver-based songwriter and producer Ryan Stewart. Tug of War wasn’t exactly a commercial success: the album has only sold about 10,000 copies. Singles “Tug of War” and “Bucket” had moderate success on the Canadian charts, peaking at 36 and 32 respectively, with the title track even getting to No. 6 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart. But none of it was enough to launch her career in the way her team might have hoped, resulting in the complete rebrand with “Call Me Maybe” four years later, which we all know was a success. In recent years, Jepsen has become known for her unapologetic bubble-gum pop and her complete embrace of the 80’s inspired synth-pop sound. EMOTION has become a kind of cult favourite: little commercial success, but critical acclaim and intense worshiping by a particular pop-music community. She’s now releasing her fourth studio album Dedicated next month, which also easily falls in the bubble-gum pop genre. But even though she’s solidified her place in pop music, it’s important to take a look back to the past, before she was truly ‘Carly Rae Jepsen.’ Jepsen’s first record, Tug of War, meshes pop, folk and a little bit of country to create a cute little introduction to Jepsen’s song-writing and the inner workings of her mind.

Written by @charlottealden
Apr 26, 2019

Inner Monologue Part 1: Julia Michaels’ “deep dive” into her emotions

I’ve known about Julia Michaels for a while now. I promise, I’m not trying to be pretentious, I’m just a huge songwriting nerd who pays attention to who’s actually writing the words and music of the songs that populate the Top 100. Before she was on pop radio, she was an LA-based songwriter, penning hits for Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Fifth Harmony and more. Personally, I love artists who sing AND write their songs because it feels more real in a lot of ways. Music is such a therapeutic, important part of my life, and it always means more when the artist singing the song actually put themselves into that song, than when you realize that the song you love more than anything was a product of an assembly-line style writing session with fifteen songwriters in downtown LA. Julia Michaels’ music is different from Max Martin-style flawless pop. The perfection of a Julia Michaels song comes in the fact that is it far from perfect: beautiful in its inherent imperfection. Her vocal performance isn’t Beyoncé-level, her verses don’t rhyme perfectly, and she definitely hasn’t counted the syllables in her lines mathematically in the way Max Martin is famous for doing. She could be seen as a modern-day Joni Mitchell: an artist who writes songs that are so brutally honest and then proceeds to sing those songs as if she’s sobbing in the recording studio. We already know she has “Issues,” but Inner Monologue Part 1 is the beginning of a record that identifies and delves into those issues in a therapist-level deep dive.

Written by @charlottealden
Apr 26, 2019

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About

“@charlottealden”

Country and folk music obsessed, writer of many words. I grew up on Dixie Chicks, obsess every day over boygenius and Phoebe Bridgers, and will likely die on the Taylor Swift train.