Charlotte Carpenter releases debut album A Modern Rage
On the journey to the release of her debut album, Charlotte Carpenter admits she had to overcome stagnation, frustration and crippling self-doubt – rebuilding a confidence which had been dismantled.
A Modern Rage was released last week and is a record born out of anger – an anger which led to the Kettering singer-songwriter wanting to be unapologetically at the “front and centre of every song,” on the record.
“A Modern Rage is me saying ‘I'm angry’ and I am only now realising these feelings of frustration and discomfort actually mean something,” she explains.
“It’s a reminder to myself and to the women in my life, that every feeling of discomfort, uncertainty, confusion and frustration is real. Our anger is justified, and our stories are worth sharing.
“Four or five years ago we suddenly learned so much about manipulative behaviour and abusive power. Women started speaking up for the first time and sharing their own experiences.
“A Modern Rage is sort of ironic really because these problems aren't new, but they were new to me.”
A Modern Rage was released last week and was recorded over a two-year period by the musician who now lives across the county border.
It follows four singles Carpenter has released this year, Spinning Plates, Not Good Enough, Like A Hurricane and most recently, You’re My Reason Why.
“The journey to this album has been long, and in some cases, I’ve had to go backwards to land into the place I am today,” she explains.
“I already had a handful of the songs in my pocket and without realising at the time, I was expressing my anger in an array of colours and sounds and sharing my confusion of what it means to me - to be a woman.
“I wanted to be unapologetically at the front and centre of every song, without anybody telling me to be quieter.”
Carpenter’s debut follows a series of singles and EPs in recent years which have been championed by the likes of BBC 6 Music, The Line Of Best Fit and Classic Rock for her raw, soulful songwriting that has drawn comparisons to the likes of Cat Power, Bonnie Raitt and PJ Harvey.
She has toured across the UK and shared stages with the likes of George Ezra, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly and Liz Lawerence.
Talking about the release of the album, she said: “I feel a mixture of things at this stage, I know I'm really excited and I feel really proud of what it is.
“I think naturally, nerves are kicking in and I wouldn't necessarily call them doubts but, there are those moments of, ‘oh god, are people gonna listen to this?’
“I have to make a real effort to put that to one side and think at the end of the day, you've made something you think is really important.”
A Modern Rage was produced by Matt de Burgh Daly and recorded across Rawson Street, Seamus Wong and Superfly Studios.
It was produced by Daly, Jamie Ward and Andy Banfield and mixed by Daly and Wayne Proctor – with the latter also mastering the record.
“This album really does show people every colour of my personality,” Carpenter explains.
“If you were to listen to those four singles back-to-back, every one is pretty different, there's some common threads, but musically I feel like I've taken on quite a few different styles and I think that's just something that happens with your debut album.
“You have a decade worth of experience, stories and knowledge to really think, ‘okay what's my first album gonna be’ and I think most of the time it does end up being a reflection of all the different parts of you.
“You’ve got blues rock moments in there, you’ve got acoustic, you’ve got some stuff where it's almost bordering on something like a sci-fi soundtrack.”
For an album born out of anger and frustration, Carpenter’s latest single, You’re My Reason Why, is described by the musician as like “a moment of hope”. It’s also her favourite track on the album.
She said: “It’s my moment thinking, ‘You know what? All of this stuff is really difficult to navigate,’.
“Being a musician alongside being a woman - sometimes those things side by side can cause friction and conflict in your mind.
“You’re My Reason Why is me just taking a breath and being like, ‘No matter where this goes, good or bad, I have the love of my life with me’.”
Earlier this year, Carpenter married her wife which she describes as the “most beautiful thing I’ve ever done.”
Adding: “She’s with me, through thick or thin on this musical journey. I couldn't do it on my own.
“You have those wobbly moments where you don't really know if you're doing the right thing, but when you have someone you love and good people around you who you love, it's good to just remind yourself that that’s actually what’s real. That’s what matters.”
Another track from the album Carpenter is keen to champion is Dolores, named after the android in the science fiction series Westworld.
“I've always loved sci-fi films and dystopian TV shows,” she explains.
“I started thinking about her in relation to the human race. She’s so well made, so well put together, she's more intelligent than we are – you have that question of whether she is a robot at all.
“It kind of has this bigger message. How much do we actually have control when you think about technology today?
“As human beings, you sort of question your own role in life and society – especially if you're a musician having to be up against social media every single day of your life.
“You’re always thinking, how can I make this feel human, how can I make this feel like I'm not just a part of the big machine.”
The sci-fi inspiration of Dolores’ lyrics continues through to the music which melds elements of the genre into the track.
Before making A Modern Rage, Carpenter admits she had to re-find her own identity.
She had stopped listening to music which gave her “joy and excitement,” explaining it was “hugely damaging”.
The solution was thinking about what her 14-year-old self would have listened to, what were the songs which made her want to pick up a guitar.
“Honestly, I would recommend that to any struggling creative when it comes to identity,” she explains.
“I went back home and got some old CDs out of my mum's loft and I would go for drives in my car.
“It was Avril Lavigne’s Let Go, The Bends by Radiohead and Parachutes by Coldplay. I remember those three being such big records to me.
“They’re all pretty different, but it was those bands which were making me want to write songs and learn the guitar and I think you can sort of hear it on the record.
“I had this incredible period of rediscovering and it made me feel really excited.”
Carpenter also adds acts including Brandi Carlile, The Black Keys, Jack White and Sheryl Crow all helped her restore her love of music.
The singer began the tour for her album last week at The Old Forge in Cranford and is due to play a further 15 shows this year which include full band headline gigs and dates supporting Jim Lackey and The Soleman Sun.
Talking about the forthcoming dates, she said: “For maybe the first time in my life, I feel I'm looking at these dates head on, into the eye of the storm.
“I know I've made something I care about. I feel really confident in the choices I've made and I just need to keep up that feeling of confidence when out on tour, to every single room I go into, whether there's five people inside or 100.
“For me, that's the most important part of doing this, getting into a room and seeing these people face to face and telling them why I wrote this album and that's what makes me want to keep going.”
A Modern Rage is out now and available digitally and on vinyl.
For more information, visit https://www.charlottecarpentermusic.com