If you take a snapshot of pop music at pretty much any point in history you’ll find that alongside the eternal teenage musings of love and relationships there are certain other subjects that crop up in the lyrics of songs more prominently at certain periods, time-stamping the music. Right now, mental health is very prominent. Thankfully pop is generally the preserve of the young; otherwise with health on the agenda we might find our musicians singing about their back problems, aching joints and if they survived Covid-19. Although to be fair, why shouldn't musicians sing about what the f*ck they want? After all Kate Bush sang about her washing machine, and if it's good enough for Kate.....
Canadian singer Charlie Houston is one such new artist: “I just want my songs to be super authentic and address shit that all young people deal with,” she says of her songs. So probably no tunes about hip operations quite yet then.
With her debut EP I Hate Spring out later this month we’ll get to hear her music in a fuller form as she works her way through a series of pop tunes where she sings of her own mental health issues, romance, breaking apart and discovering the fluidity of her sexual identity, nailing the ‘shit that young people deal with’ area neatly.
Her first example of this came via the pleasurably lethargic pop song Calls. Flecked with some nice touches of reality (empty Juul pods and Uber Eats in bed are mentioned) it finds Charlie at more than one end; the end of the phone and the end of a relationship: “Can't help saying how I guess I miss you. Hoping you call, hoping you call me back.”
The downtempo atmosphere is maintained on her second song Things, which adds a little more electronic R&B flourish than Calls. This one deals with Charlie losing her own self within a relationship: “I just did things ‘cos you did them too. Didn’t really want to I’m just trying get with you.” There’s a definite enervated sadness to Things, which manages to be both slick and vulnerable at the same time.
Charlie’s EP is released on April 23 and contains 3 other songs titled Adore, Honey and 19. I can only assume that 19 isn’t a cover of the Paul Hardcastle classic – although that would be something – if only for the fact that I can’t imagine that many young people are talking about the Vietnam war right now. In tribute to this however, I think this post number is rather suitable, don't you?
Charlie Houston - Things (Video)