by Constance Tucker
Where has Charlotte Clare been hiding? Well, that is easy to answer – on the beautiful Gold Coast. Thank goodness, she is being imported to our neck of the woods per se. This is the real deal folks, this young lady has pipes to spare and the soulfulness of Mariah Carey, but in a jazzy setting. Produced by legendary guitarist Louie Shelton the Christmas offering has a slick, yet accessible sound that is guaranteed to warm the cockles of your holiday collection.
Filled with recognizable Christmas nuggets, but with an island twist, the listener is immediately transported to a sunny spot on the beach sipping scrumptious libations and all the stresses of the season melt away in the Australian sun. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is flavored with congas, strings and catchy rhythms all wrapped up in a holiday sheen and topped with Clare’s very inviting, warm and soaring alto vocals. I cannot say it enough; this is truly an enjoyable vocalist with talent oozing from every fiber of her being.
“Comfort and Joy” has a Miles Davis style trumpet sound that gives the track a cool jazz overtone. Trumpeter, Scott Browne does an outstanding job on this cut, lightly sprinkled with soft brushes from drummer, Louie Shelton and soft appropriate touches from pianist, Jacques Samuel Appapoulay the track has a true holiday jazz sound. Clare expresses a softer side of her voice with delicate diction and warm timbres. Shelton also delivers an inspired guitar solo.
“Jingle Bell Rock” is given a big horn sound with a prancing feel, certainly appropriate for the lyric and feeling of the lyric. It is a fun, playful track that will immediately make your foot tap and your hips move. Definitely what the holidays offer. Clare’s voice is saucy and focused and Shelton’s solo is a pickin’ and grinnin’ winner. Appapoulay adds a nice Hammond overtone to give the track a deeper gospel sound.
The Gold Coast has certainly found its gem; thank goodness they are willing to share her with us. An Island Christmas with Charlotte Clare is a triumphant holiday recording, filled with new takes on old chestnuts, top notch production, very adept musicians and an introduction to a vocalist who will undoubtedly be the next vocal sensation in the coming year. Watch for Charlotte Clare, it will be a name you remember once you hear her sing first few notes. Highly Recommended.