Charlotte Yates: Beggar's Choice
By Amanda Mills
Charlotte Yates has been releasing solo albums since 1991, collecting critical acclaim and awards along the way, as well as having her lyrics collated into a book, 1999's 'One Lady Driver'. This new self-produced album is a collection of acoustic-based songs recorded at both Trident Sound studios and Semaphore Sound with assistance from drummer Darren Mathiassen (Rhombus, Hollie Smith), and bassist Rob Winch. 'Beggar's Choice' finds Yates in fine form. Her voice is mellow and melodic, bringing to mind singers like Natalie Merchant and Aimee Mann, while the songwriting is sophisticated and elegant, with sincere lyrics that are not overwrought emotional confessionals. Yates' songs roll along with catchy melodies and rhythms - the shuffling beats of the wry Black Water have a somewhat country feel to them, while Gifthorse has a more rock oriented beat. The sparse nature of Given Up, however, proves that less is more, and the welcome addition of Mad, recorded for the 2005 'Tuwhare' album only adds to the wealth of material. Yates' writing has fine solid musicianship with an honest production that enhances, not overwhelms the music, and 'Beggar's Choice' is a wonderful example of how good songs should be treated.