I feel like there is such a vacuum in current music for tracks that are both ambient in sound but refreshing and engaging in lyrics, and I believe that Charlotte Champian has a significant role in crossing that divide. Champian’s new track “Shimmer ” blends modern smooth jazz with a vocal style reminiscent of big band and soul, to create a 21st century take on classic sounds.
The jazz sound is very prevalent in the instrumentation of “Shimmer.” Smooth electric piano propels the track, while light percussion and shakers keep rhythm, and a very plump sounding stand-up bass provides depth. The music sounds very dreamy, with gentle chord changes, and no overwhelmingly distinct instrument sounds. The music is blended well, and makes the listener feel like they are almost floating. I think Champian did a great job with creating distinct choruses and verses. During the chorus, the percussion drops out, and brass enters to support, giving the track a really ambient feel, and a relaxing energy. The brass introduction also does a great job of reminding the listener of classic big band. I think the vocal style feels like it could be ripped from a big band anthology album, and I love it.
“Shimmer”, before being a jazz or neo soul track, is a love song. The lyrics harken back to the pop music of yesteryear, and also are full of clever lines that are fresh and new. The main chorus belts out the line “I’ll be there,” which while not necessarily original, does communicate the main idea of the track- staying with a partner through highs and lows. One of my favorite lines in the song comes a bit later when Champian sings: “I’ll saturate my heart with love for you.” I love the imagery of that line. Saturation is such a rich word and comparing an all-consuming love to the image of a drenched heart really worked for me. In addition to a great lead vocal performance, “Shimmer” stands out with its creative use of harmonies and melodic backing vocals. The melodic backing vocals help carry the track forward, and really contribute to the angelic/dream-like vibe, while also underpinning the lead vocals. “Shimmer” stands out as a jazz-inspired ambient love song that is unique and engaging.
The Birmingham, UK based artist has made a name for herself in the jazz infused pop scene, and I especially enjoyed the interplay between different genre styles and modern musical trends. If I am not mistaken, the chorus makes use of vocal chops in the production. Vocal chops are a relatively new tactic, owing to the technology needed to produce them, and I enjoyed hearing new production techniques overlaid with more classic sounds and genres- especially newer vocal production over more classic vocal styles. Charlotte Champian has done something very cool here, and I would recommend everyone to check out her new track “Shimmer.”