“Twisted Folk” Duo Charm Their Way through Love and Death
Charmed splits the bill with Erika Luckett at the Outpost
By Mel Minter
courtesy of Charmed
Local folk duo Charmed—Bambi Jackson (guitar, keyboard, vocals) and Alicia Ultan (viola, guitar, vocals)—regularly take on love and death; and with a turn of phrase, a deft melody and a wicked sense of humor, they carry listeners beyond the heartache and pain to the mystery and healing.
This Saturday at the Outpost, the self-described “twisted folk” duo will take on those themes again, introducing new material from their upcoming, as-yet-untitled second CD and no doubt reprising some favorites from their first release, Beautifully Twisted.
It’s been two years since Beautifully Twisted hit the streets, and the two singer/songwriters are working hard at taking Charmed to the next level, both on the new recording and in performance.
“For the first CD, we decided we were going to try to remain as true to our live performance as we could,” says Ultan. “This one is adding ...
“It’s a full band CD,” Jackson chimes in.
“... a whole other element,” Ultan finishes.
“On the first one, we only had a couple of guest friends come in, and this one we’re ...” starts Jackson.
“We’re celebrating our creative friends,” Ultan interpolates.
“... adding the good energy from the good hearts that we know,” Jackson concludes, and together they list Rahim AlHaj, Maud Beenhouwer, Jacqueline Ferrier-Ultan, Tim Gaulden, Claire Gentry, Sam Gutierrez, Benjamin Jackson and Kanoa Kaluhiwa.
With the orchestration come more intricate arrangements and musical depth, but the duo won’t completely abandon their simpler approach, offering one or two cuts without the band. As always, they braid together a variety of musical strains—folk, Celtic, Eastern European, classical, rock—to create their unique “twisted folk” sound.
Thematically, the second CD stays as close to the emotional bone as the first. “It’s typical Charmed,” says Ultan.
“It can be deep, dark, dank, but with that loving feeling,” adds Jackson, breaking out into a rendition of the Righteous Brothers’ hit before breaking up in laughter.
The number seven keeps coming up, but the two haven’t yet sorted out its significance. What they do know is that “a lot of the songs are about the connections and disconnections with those we love,” says Ultan.
As an example, she points to a new song, “Secret Garden,” which explores the untimely death of her father and the gifts of the spirit he left behind.
Jackson notes that the CD will include “two pure love songs,” new territory for the duo.
New territory is where Charmed is heading these days. “It’s time for us to go up a level,” says Jackson, and the two are sighting in on the Outpost gig as a milestone in their career.
“This is a big deal for us,” says Ultan. “The Outpost is a place where you feel like, you hit that stage and you’re at a certain level—or you better be.”
This gig has spurred the two to re-evaluate their approach to live performance and prepare themselves for playing larger venues. They’re hoping to add a backing band for the CD release and beyond, and they’d like to take their music on the road.
“We’ve been looking at different festivals, to start branching out. It’s time,” says Jackson.
Saturday night at the Outpost, it’s time to get Charmed in a purely musical setting, without the usual dining and drinking distractions of the duo’s club dates. It’s time to really listen.
Songstress Erika Luckett Brings a World of Music to the Stage
Erika Luckett has been winning kudos around the world for her multilingual, cross-cultural, genre-blending songs, and a voice whose intimacy plumbs the emotional depths. Her CD, Unexpected, was recognized as Album of the Year 2006 by the Just Plain Folks organization and Best Independent Release of the Year from Acoustic Guitar magazine.
Soriba Fofana • drummer, traditional West African at South Broadway Library
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