December 10, 2017
Charlotte continues to offer up new musicians in its ever-growing scene, and the latest harvest is Charles Walker’s debut EP Whole Again. The Charlotte native, singer-songwriter, and Independence High School graduate has crafted a narrative full of pain, love, and emotional complexity in just four short songs, exposing his vulnerable side for listeners to explore at length.
Walker has followed in the footsteps of artists like Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers in the quest for a genuine emotional experience, forsaking a picture-perfect image to attempt a more honest depiction of the human experience. In songs like “All That You Need,” Walker cites his anger problems as well as his stubbornness and inability to accept responsibility for his own shortcomings. These themes continue throughout the EP, as Walker portrays himself as a fallible human being who has endured strife and is recovering the best way he knows how. With lyrical themes such as expectation, struggle, coping, and overcoming, there is no straightforward part of this record. Each song seems to be the amalgam of several perspectives that Walker has; whether it’s his lover, his father, or the way that Walker sees himself. Being only 19 years old, it’s impressive that Walker has written lyrics able to carry the emotional weight and maturity of someone far more mature in years.
Musically, the EP reflects some of the greats in the genre. At a glance, Walker’s voice and music sound like a folk-country ballad with a heavy dose of melancholy, similar to that of Noah Gundersen or even Tanner Swift. Further into the songs, Walker’s voice takes on a tone matching more closely with Mike Kinsella (American Football, Owen), creating a balance that Walker has found his niche in. However, for as many similarities as Walker bears to these tried-and-true vocalists, the main difference is an unfortunate lack of risk taking, vocally. Walker seems to stay in his comfortable range for 90% of the EP, only breaking out at the very end of the last song, “Detox.” Granted, this does elicit a powerful response, hearing him begin to belt out after remaining soft-spoken for so long, but it seems to serve as a bright flash on an otherwise dimly lit record. That being said – for a debut EP, Charles Walker shows enormous promise and unlimited potential; a potential that many should be interested in seeing unfold.
Whole Again serves as an EP that stands alone as solid music project, and for Charlotte music, it’s another step in the right direction. Charles Walker is soon enough to be on everyone’s radar, and with this release, it shouldn’t be long.
Listen to Whole Again by Charles Walker.