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Charity Ward posted a Kickstarter video in order to raise funds to produce her first album, Sounds Like Love, in 2011. She asked for a modest $5,000 and raised the funds within a month due to the strong audience response to that video and others, which easily showcased her tremendous vocal talent. The 20-year-old Detroit native has been a singer since she was a child and wanted to produce uplifting nu-soul and R&B-infused folk which told the story of her life and the lives of many others from her beleaguered city. With Sounds Like Love and her supporters, Charity was able to do just that. Now, four years later, the singer/songwriter is bringing more happy yet profound music to her fans, making their investment well worth it with her new EP, Yellow.
Yellow was released on 1256 Recordings in the summer of 2015. Another cool, soulful offering from Charity, her smooth voice offers surprisingly thought-provoking lyrics. The first single from the EP, Beautiful Moments, is a perfect example. At the outset, it sounds simply like a well-produced happy song with a very talented singer on vocals. The lyrics seem to describe a fun weekend between a couple or some friends, but the imagery and the story the lyrics tell are not as cavalier as that.
Coming from Detroit, Charity has experienced the collapse and downfall of the Motor City, probably on a very personal level. Rather than collapsing into a stereotypical view of Detroit, however, or being overly cheery to compensate, she instead chose to talk about the triumph of people inside the city and make the statement that beauty, art, and love still exists in her city. It is a very interesting take on the old adage, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” The singer asks the listener to lean into the small stuff, and the big stuff for that matter, to find joy anyway. The video for Beautiful Moments drives home this point by using little vignettes shot against the backdrop of Detroit. Bright, artful shots of children dancing in front of a burnt-out building, music being played in front of a store, or a silly impromptu party by Lake Michigan play up these “beautiful moments” which Charity believes exists in everyone.
Although Beautiful Moments is the most lyrically complex and emotive song on Yellow, the rest of the EP is not to be discounted. The opening track, Pretty, has a funk bass line and an uplifting message about the joys found in being in love. Pretty also features some very high-caliber jazz trumpet, the melody of which Charity joins with her vocals toward the end of the song, creating a beautiful duet.
Following Pretty is Inspired, a folk song with blues and soul influences. The guitar riff may remind some of Eric Clapton’s If I Could Change the World. Charity’s lilting voice makes this track all her own, however, and another unexpected love song blooms from the lyrics. The EP closes with Undescribable. This track, despite the minor grammatical indiscretion in its title, is probably one of the singer’s best ever from a songwriting standpoint. She manages to combine folk, R&B and lounge piano in a soft, pretty musical cacophony of lovely sounds. An excellent way to close the EP, Charity has had this song in her back pocket since before she began her Kickstarter campaign, so it is great to see it on a recorded EP.
Charity has many more songs at the ready for new projects and her always-inspiring live shows. The lifelong singer thanks Kickstarter for making her dream career a reality, and she has given back by making folk-infused R&B music which is uplifting but does not pull any punches. “Life is tough,” says Charity, “but so are people. In the meantime, there is fun to be had and art to make.” This singer certainly has a lot of both on Yellow and a lot more to come.
Review by Layla Klamt
Youtube.com: Charity – Beautiful Moments
All images used with permission from Charity press kit