ALBUM REVIEW – CHARLIE DORE Milk Roulette ****  Black Ink Music BICD8
This is Charlie’s eighth album, and what a lovely, beautiful corker it is; the home-grown project was recorded on two microphones with her writer, collaborator and school-friend Julian Littman, and it radiates the peaceful, welcoming warmth that greets visitors with a smile and invites them to stay for a while. It’s Charlie’s most personal outing for a long time, and the album is chock-full of incisive and intelligent thought-provoking lyrics, with flashes of razor-sharp humour and uplifting melodies to die for. She remembers her ever-optimistic dad, who, when someone thought the milk had gone off, would knock back a bottle to test it, some without success – and he adopted the same cavalier attitude for his women, hence the song and the title track.
Charlie was born in Pinner, Middlesex and followed a successful career as a film, TV and radio actress, a performing singer-songwriter and a producer as well. She’s one of Radio Wales Celtic Heartbeat presenter Frank Hennessy’s favourites. This CD really is home-grown; Julian is playing guitar, mandolin, dobro, piano and percussion, conjured from a suitcase and housekeys, and Charlie is on Indian harmonium, piano, ukulele and autoharp. Her soft, soulful voice is ever-so-slightly muffly, like wrapping it in a cosy blanket; but that adds to the effect. Reg Meuross and Jess Vincent called in on their way back from a booking to sing fabulous harmonies on ‘Best Man For The Job’; and Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow blend their voices on ‘Three A Penny’, which laments the way in which free digital downloading has become all the rage and ruined the music business. Charlie, playing the couldn’t-care-less computer industry, mocks struggling artists as “knuckle-dragging luddites” in the New World Order, and she drives the message right home with devastating effect. The opening track, ‘All These Things’, outlines the heartbreak and hope of IVF; ‘Firewater’ is about falling for a handsome drunk “and not being able to keep up the pace”; ‘Stare You Down’ is the continuing war between her and the predatory cold-calling salesman; and ‘Please Don’t Let Me Be Promoted’ highlights polite euphemisms for sudden death.
Since I decided to review this album, I can’t stop playing it over and over again – it’s that heartwarmingly good.
Mick Tems – Folk Wales October 2014