According to singer/songwriters Abi Cook and Crystal Yexley ‘Charis’ expresses the simultaneous token and burden of grace. The apparent contradiction is a fitting anagram to cover the diversity of their efforts.
Their debut EP, released in August, 2006 is affirmatively contemplative. Tracks are anchored by the soulful vocals of Cook/Yexley whose piano-driven ballads are reminiscent of the late Portland rocker Elliott Smith – cool, dreamlike, and china plate thin. Layering between the two leads adds a “wetness” that does for their sound what an isolated rainfall does to the image of a city street at night – glossing and enhancing the core texture.
Often backed by a loose syndicate of studio musicians, the ensemble comes alive in a warm current of poly-rhythms and blue notes. Rhythm guitar is blunt and honest, while tube-driven lead is dated and whimsical. If the former tells a story, the later selects the precise adjectives employed in its execution. The bass and drum section is fickle, yet frivolous – chalk full of syncopations and organic meter sure to keep your foot tapping. Keys and gospel organs fill the space between with a binding warmth.
The result is both settling and challenging. The kind of sound that’s delicately impressionable, like steam rings left on countertops by coffee cups. To find beauty, we must teach ourselves to look closer. ~J.M. Franz