Archive for December, 2011

Charlie Jones is a woman on a mission. Since coming 3rd in the BBC’s 2008 singer/songwriter talent contest, the Birmingham-born blonde has adopted a new incarnation at the head of a jangly five-piece Leicester act. Backed by The Martyrs – four well-dressed remnants of the wild Ego Armalade, [link] Charlie is the star attraction tonight dressed in leopard skin.

She ain't no Nash. Classy Charlie and her Martyr mates have plenty to display. Image: The Monograph

The frustration of enduring a 2 hour-long sound check and resorting to overpriced Carling is dispelled when Charlie et al burst into Cherry Picker. Less Western than KT Tunstall’s Black Horse number, it’s as sweet and fruity as the red prune itself.

Further along is Nothing To Display – a strummed melody about a terminally-gloomy friend who, head in hands, has little to offer, like the vacant message on a mobile phone screen.

Jones resents comparison with Kate Nash. “You always get that. They put you next to another girl with a guitar out there don’t they? I do get a bit annoyed by it. But what can you do?” she retorts. True, there is little Mockney about Charlie’s pure vocals. She deserves another award for taming the blokes from the now-extinct Ego, who exhibit no Flying V’s tonight and are on best behaviour.

Our Side, a passionate song about football and love, successfully paints the colours of the beautiful game. “I’ve got my heart in defence, I’ve got you up front” Charlie sings tactically to the derogatorily-named Kaffir’s alpha male audience.

7 Shades oversees a shift in pace from jig to ballad with a melancholic twist, demonstrating the band’s song-crafting versatility.

Queen of Hearts is the highlight: even the laddish Martyrs trade Jacks for Aces. Incorporating whistling and brassy elements, it’s their stand-out song. Charlie is a beacon, shining brighter than the Martyr’s cheap suit and waistcoats combo.

A lingering suspicion is that Charlie could wipe the floor with X-factor, but she has too much class and dignity to file herself alongside the likes of Cher Lloyd.

With Florence & The Machine, Marina & The Diamonds and Esben & The Witch already established, Charlie & The Martyrs face stiff competition from other female-fronted acts, if only in the name stakes.

Surely though it’s only a matter of time before Charlie assumes her title in waiting, the “heroine of Halesowen” in what is her most promising outfit yet.

Review of Charlie & The Martyrs @ Kaffir Inn, Whetstone – 18th November 2011

Myspace here, Monograph interview here.