Charlie Hilton

Captured Tracks Records, 2016

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Charlie Hilton is the frontwoman for Portland, Oregon indie rockers Blouse. On her first solo album, she releases a grab bag of sounds and moods that spans influences from several decades. Titled after her Sanskirt name (she's taken on Charlie as her name since high school), my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Palana may mean protection, but here it's synonymous with spacey, dreamy, and gentle sounds.

The title track “Palana” is placed first on the album and introduces us to a lullaby-esque opening with minimal music and soft vocals. “Something For Us All” follows and is fuller, louder, full of synths, and wanders from beat driven to airy, almost spacey melodies. “Pony” then moves into more familiar indie rock waters with a dreamy, syrupy-sweetness; similarly, the more subdued, harmony of “Long Goodbye” is well within today's version of indie sounds.

The middle of the album brings us the orchestral melancholy of “Funny Away,” the laidback and breezy 80's feelings of “WHY,” and possibly one of the darkest tunes here, the solemn “Let's Go To A Party.” Though the song is rooted in '80s New Wave and is highly danceable, it has the underlying starkness of a Joy Division anthem. “Snow” follows and seems like an extension of the previous song, only with soft, disjointed horns in the background.

The back end of the album is equally as strong with the horns and lazy atmosphere of “The Young” and the throwback folk sounds of “No One Will,” which gives nod to the '60s. This debut exits with the lovely, acoustic “100 Million,” where Hilton's gorgeous vocals are allowed to shine – which only seems fitting as her pipes are the star of the show here.

Palana is definitely less dream-pop than Hilton’s work in Blouse. Her touch of experimentalism here, especially with the subtle jazz and psych-rock, makes this a solo album most of us will like, though I suspect we'll love the next album.

Rating: B-

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