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“Work” is a popular song title in pop music. It’s a short, punchy word that slots nicely into a hook or chorus and, as Rihanna has demonstrated, its pronunciation is as malleable as its meaning.
Toronto-based soul singer/producer Charlotte Day Wilson’s song Work is a slow, elegiac ballad that slowly crescendoes amidst churchy organ and harmonizing. Her slightly drawn-out pronunciation of “work” and the song’s lyrics sound sad, even though the song is ostensibly acknowledging that successful relationships require work. (That could be an upbeat topic, right? Er…) On the next song, After All, she sings, “I just need a little rest before this gets harder.”
The other tracks on her mostly self-produced six-track debut EP impart a similar low-key weariness. Wilson often sings in a low register and is closely mic’d to emphasize a lonely intimacy. Sometimes gospel-style backing voices hint at a larger sense of devotion that is going unrequited, given the melancholy timbre of the aforementioned songs. In the River Tiber-produced Where Do You Go, the production’s smoothness and cleanness and the vocals suggest a confidence and clarity of vision that contrasts with the vexing relationship frustrations described in the lyrics. The EP comes full circle with Find You, as Wilson’s voice swells with revelatory optimism in a moment of self-discovery.
There’s a simplicity to Wilson’s songwriting and melodies, but it’s the interplay between the arrangements and the lyrics that is most rewarding. At times, the EP might be too subtle, but her debut does what many relationships do: leave us wanting more.
Top track: Where Do You Go