Artists come and go, but every now and then, a short-lived run of an artist can be resurrected into something exciting. Initially making a splash in the scene with 2002's All About Jesus,
pop singer Charmaine returns to music after eight years. With a new sound and a new aim, her comeback album, Love Reality, marks a huge milestone in this year's list of releases, as
well as demands extra attention and inspection.
Described as "orchestral symphonic pop", the sound Charmaine brings to the table is fresh and accomplished. Gone are the Rebecca St. James-esque flavorings from years past. From the opening
strings of "Tell Me," the album has an epic feel from start to finish; pianos and synths layered upon vast soundscapes complete the mix, giving Love Reality an overall dream-like vibe.
It's hard to really compare Charmaine's sound to anyone else in the Christian market, immediately making the album stand out among others in the pop field. Without completely banking on the
distinctiveness-factor, enough variety is infused throughout the album to keep things interesting. "Love Reality" and "Tokyo" are by far the more quirky tracks displayed, while the slower paces
of "Not Fair" and "Revolutionary Thought" provide effective contrast. It's a winning and captivating sound from beginning to end, and it's nothing short of groundbreaking.
Love Reality is lyrically Christ-centered and full of optimism. While the fun "Tokyo" recounts Charmaine's experiences and aspirations from world travels, tracks range from
solid and mature looks at God and His grace ("At My Door," "Epiphany") while keeping an honest look at walking the path of Jesus ("Run," "Fighting Furies"). The most convicting track of all,
however, is "Not Fair," recounting how undeserved one is of Christ's unfailing love ("Why do You love me, why are You here?/You know my intentions, are never sincere.../ It don't seem right,
that Your love has never been fair"). Nothing sounds canned, and while ultimately it's a relatively simple set of lyrical musings, it is a breath of fresh air being paired with the album's
musical approach. The vocals are always spot on, as well, and given the wide range of styles presented, their versatility is a marked attribute of Charmaine's.
It's difficult to describe what makes Love Reality such a pleasure to hear. Forsaking the norm, the project never follows in comfortable footsteps and instead ventures out into a
whole new path of its own. It's worlds beyond the now-dated All About Jesus, and without even attempting to continue her old sound, Charmaine's is undoubted a musical journey one
will want to revisit again and again. Love Reality will not only be this year's best pop album, but also one of the best albums of the year overall. Don't miss out on one of
2010's biggest surprises yet.
- PReview date: 3/1/10, Review date: 3/28/10; written by Roger Gelwicks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
In 2002, touring background vocalist for Rebecca St. James (and fellow Aussie), Charmaine, made her
solo debut on the quaint Elevate Records. Now, eight years later, the vocalist is making a triumphant return on in:ciite (formerly Indelible) with Love Reality,
a bold pop record with a big sound and impressive production. Charmaine's vocals have matured dramatically in recent years and she matches
how huge the songs can feel with her soaring vocals perfectly. Each track is catchy without a single one of the ten sounding like filler.
The themes range from sharing your burdens with Christ to leaning on a friend to reflecting on God's endless love for us and His grace. It's a beautiful record,
a sleeper favorite to be sure, and most likely one of the best pop albums to come along in years. I'm confident this will be on my year-end top 10 list
- John DiBiase