Could Have Done Anything
“You came into my life like a gripping novel,” Charlotte Cornfield, sings on her latest album of nine country-indie songs called Could Have Done Anything. “Like a gripping novel” describes her style, literary to be sure, and the novel that makes up her latest release seems to be about a relationship that started magically, ended badly, but that she just can’t seem to let go of in its wake.
“But now I know not everything is cut and dry / And I know I still need you in my life,” she sings on the track of the same name, after a number of songs dealing with old memories of the relationship and after, like “I Dream Of” and “Could Have Done Anything”. She is great at detailed storytelling: “The corrugated edges of a cardboard box / The flotsam and jetsam strewn across the dock / The marina band playing some distant rock / The moonlight on your back when you took your shirt off.” And she captures vividly the feelings in and after a relationship, so that you either remember your own past lives or at least live hers, a story well told.
The album is made up of great words, but the sounds capture the words in a magic way, with Charlotte’s subtle country drawl and penchant for almost Dylan like melodies. A closer comparison, that I’ve used before, is Big Thief’s Adrienne Lenker. The evocative stories are so beautifully told, so that you may be weeping a combination of joy and felt loss as you sing with Charlotte at the end of the album, “And I’m grateful / That I’m / Calmer than I was / Stronger than I was / Smarter than I was / Older than I was.”
It is a journey of an album, much more cohesive than her last album of songs, Highs In The Minuses, which went from skateboarding in the parking lot to time in the hospital as a youngster to being crippling anxious as an adult. It sounds like she has done a good deal of processing (as well as touring) since then, and though it’s a bittersweet album in a lot of ways, it is evidence of a songwriter who is able to live in the present as well as learn from the past. The story is not tied up with tidy bows, but no good story is. She is becoming one of our generation’s most moving bards.
Order Could Have Done Anything by Charlotte Cornfield HERE
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