Album Review: “Magic Mirror” by Pearl Charles

With “Magic Mirror”, LA native singer-songwriter Pearl Charles has released her second album and takes her listeners into a musical wonderland, where the 29-year-old lives out her preferences for ABBA melodies, Laurel Canyon hippie dreaminess, sun-warmed West Coast soft rock and 70’s country-folk bliss. All this sounds very vintage, but never loses its current pop appeal. Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty would love this album.

Charles has been making music since early childhood. At 18, she formed the country duo The Driftwood Singers with Christian Lee Hutson, in which she sang and played guitar and autoharp. In her early 20s, she played drums in the garage rock band The Blank Tapes before starting to work on her singer-songwriter career. 2018 saw the release of their indie-pop debut album, “Sleepless Dreamer”.

With her penchant for poppy hooks and catchy choruses “Magic Mirror” is a coherent evolution of her sound and delves even deeper into the music of the ’70s.

On the euphoric opener “Only For Tonight”, the artist celebrates her ABBA moment. “Dancing Queen” was more than just inspiration to this ravishing number, which in its glittery disco-pop grandiosity is not representative of the album. In “What I Need” Charles sings about to stay or leave a comfortable relationship. The song enchants with a breezy slide guitar and brushed percussion, following 70’s country-folk paths.

“Don’t Feel Like Myself” is a nod to the pop finesse of the Carpenters. “Imposter” one of the most beautiful songs on the album, which, according to the artist, was created on a mushroom trip on an isolated island, seduces with its warm layered 70s soul pop, smooth electric piano and sublime horns.

Everything on “Magic Mirror” sounds laid back – like Fleetwood Mac circa 1975. The songs often seem a bit sentimental and inward-looking, taking refuge in times gone by, where love was even stronger than climate change (“As Long As You’re Mine”). But that’s exactly what makes “Magic Mirror” the right album for this lockdown winter, for the afternoons you spend under the blanket with a cup of tea and leave the turbulent world with its problems outside.

Photo: Dana Trippe