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Sarah Elizabeth Charles - Blank Canvas (Ropeadope/Stretch Music)

9 November 2022

Best known for her work leading the band SCOPE and collaborating with world-jazz band Ajoyo, vocalist/songwriter Sarah Elizabeth Charles exists in a creative space in between genres on her solo album Blank Canvas, far more interested in finding the right sounds to convey her ideas than in musical fidelity. Though a singer clearly rooted in jazz, Charles pulls in influences from across the musical spectrum, from power chord rock and progressive R&B to soulful folk/jazz and ethereal world beats. Thus the psychedelic soul of “Out Loud” and the atmospheric bombast of “Borders” can share the same record, and neither feels out of place. All the better for Charles to get her thoughts across – the footnotes on every song indicate messages being sent, from the gorgeous “Malba” being “…for women of color” to the ghostly “The Message” being “…for the higher self.” In all, Charles presents Blank Canvas as a multi-layered experience, appealing on the outside, but revealing its true riches as the listener pulls back each sheaf.