PEARL CHARLES: SLEEPLESS DREAMER

January 30th, 2018 | Album reviews

PEARL CHARLES
Sleepless Dreamer
Kanine

Pearl Charles has been likened to Lana Del Rey and Jenny Lewis, but both comparisons miss the mark. Charles, as she demonstrates on her full-length debut Sleepless Dreamer, represents something more elemental: a smooth voice, a familiar sound, and sturdy, well-constructed songs. Unlike her more wry contemporaries, there’s little pretense and few ulterior motives here—just a handful of pleasant tunes bolstered by a smooth, gently-twangy Southern California groove. The 70s touchstones are obvious, from Fleetwood Mac to Jackson Browne, and the songs go down easy with few curveballs, though the album doesn’t lack gently adventurous lyrical turns—for instance, the line “All the boys with your name / They all act the same as you.” The record’s biggest risk, “Only in America,” however, falls a bit flat. It’s a political song that’s too vague to mean much, and “Not only in America,” the song’s repetitive rallying cry, is half an idea in need of a thesis. But the record’s strongest tune is “Night Tides,” which plays to Charles’ strengths in all the right ways. It’s a lament about lost love, strung with elegant little metaphors about receding tides and chasing ghosts. The song is centered on one of her most impressive hooks and, like much of the material here, it makes great use of her top-notch band, whose work particularly shines on this track’s dusky Malibu funk.

—Chris Kissel

PEARL CHARLES’ SLEEPLESS DREAMER IS AVAILABLE FRI., FEB. 2, FROM KANINE.