Charlie Kaplan “Sunday” (Independent, 2020)

Charlie Kaplan is a New York based singer-songwriter and Sunday is his debut album written in the wake of his father’s death it represents an exorcism of sorts. “Each song [on Sunday] was an exercise in conjuring light, warmth, insight, guidance, release – my life’s absent emotional palette,” says Charlie. Initial listens highlight influences but deeper immersion reveals a playful, complex album full of nuance and heart. 

The opening track ‘Small Business’ almost ambles into view, parading it’s three-chord Reed /Velvets flag for all to see. Half ‘Waiting For The Man’ and half lo-fi street shuffle it introduces our laconic artist; all soft shoe and whip-smart phrase. The next couple of tracks revolve around Californian themes, all fantasy and drenched reverb. ‘California Days’ and ‘In California’; all light and space they sound like the metropolitan musings of an East Coast fantasist as he practices his Velvet’s chord progressions. ‘The Light of Day’ is a joyous Stonesy thrash complete with full cheeks sax solo. ‘Snow Walk’ is a Kurt Vile lope through a slacker anthem, the central instrumental break is not only charming in its delicacy but has a rare melodic quality that becomes almost hypnotic as the repeated guitar lines sit on top of the rock-solid beat. There are reminders of Mudcrutch’s ‘Crystal River’ in this lengthy workout. ‘Pete Williams’ – the story of Kaplan’s High School tutor’s advice returns to the template of East Coast singer-songwriter of which Reed or perhaps De Ville are the most obvious; not only in the vocal stylings but also the phrasing and even the song construction – narrative, chorus, narrative, chorus, sax solo, fade. 

The album closer is a drifting, dreamy ballad ‘Hey Young Man’ with hints of Grandaddy and Kaplan finishes with a flourish. The extended feedback during the song bringing us right back to the Velvets but also to Wilco and anywhere in-between.  Hymnal and meditative it seals the lid on a compelling debut that promises much for the future and the now.

Soulful and ruminative debut with a New York vibe and songs aplenty
8/10

Author: Keith Hargreaves

Riding the one eyed horse into dead town the scales fell from his eyes. Music was the only true god at once profane and divine The dust blew through his mind as he considered the offering... And then he scored it out of ten and waited for the world to wake up

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