Charlotte Cardin is a powerhouse. This is the most succinct and clear way to put it. On her debut album, Phoenix, she rises like one. It’s a collection of supreme vocal performances and drippy, synthy experiments that compliment her voice that can alternate between a gentle lullaby, then belting on par with Adele.
The Montreal native began her career as a model before debuting as a singer on a French Canadian singing competition called La Voix where she finished as a top 4 contestant. After listening to “Anyone Who Loves Me” off of Phoenix, it’s understandable why. The song is a perfect power ballad of heartbreak and longing, propelled by Cardin’s jet-engine vocal. It’s a song that hits the pleasure centers of viewers of those shows looking for a performance to stop them in their tracks.
Cardin’s vocal is not the only highlight here. On “Meaningless”, propulsive bass hits, pianos, and string samples create a danceable sonic terraform perfect for late-night listening, or in earbuds to listen to while in the back of a rain-streaked ride home from a night out. On “Sad Girl”, Cardin’s vocal gets a little smokier, a little more deliberate as the drum machine claps anchor crawling guitar notes. It’s slick piece of R&B – and a bit pointed as well when Cardin sings. "Song I wrote the week you left/I got an album from this fucking mess." The song starts to transform near its bridge as the vocal isolates, then starts to distort. While Cardin’s songs sound so universally lush, this tweak shows she’s willing to add blemishes to keep listeners on their toes.
Phoenix may be the first album from Charlotte Cardin, but it arrives five years after she started making music and playing live. The result is a confident record of really great moments, songs that feel a little familiar but take left turns when you’re not expecting it. She has all of the talent in the world and the ability to create any sort of record she wants. It’s probably not likely she makes a record that sounds anywhere near this again, so enjoy it while it lasts, because the next one is certain to be stratospheric.
- Brendan Hilliard, Obviate Media