It might seem lazy to look at a Los Angeles born-and-bred artist and say that they move with an ease born from the West Coast. That’s exactly what hits you in the early moments of a Pearl Charles show.
The singer-songwriter rolled through Houston for the first time last week, March 7, serenading a small crowd at the Continental Club as if every subject is a simple matter of fact. That ease belies the heartbreak and hard work underneath.
“That’s kind of the dream,” says Charles.
“We’re all kind of chill, and all of those stereotypes about California are somewhat true. At the same time I care about sounding really tight, and we rehearse all the time.”
Charles carries a creative load in her work. Her live show, though, involves a complete band behind her. Bassist Dustin Bookatz provides a rhythmic complement to Charles’ style, seamlessly finger picking his way through most of the set.
Seamless almost perfectly describes the whole band. It’s a cohesive unit also featuring industry veterans Marcus Congleton on guitar and Julian Harmon on drums. That allows Charles, drawing largely from her debut LP Sleepless Dreamer, to shine.
Her work spans a variety of pop and rock genres, tied together by topics of love and loss.
“I’d be lying if I said heartbreak wasn’t a huge influence on those songs,” says Charles.
“I’m grateful for those experiences, and they create growth. I’m also weary of making that sound like that’s too much of what I write about. They’re also about me and my search for truth.”
Charles also played a new track, titled “What I Need,” that mirrors her work on Dreamer. It’s another tune where her dreamy voice comes through, but there’s some pain behind those eyes.
Charles is currently running the SXSW in Austin, but we have it on good authority that she’ll roll back through Houston soon. Keep an eye on her in the meantime.
(Photo: Thomas Joseph)
Support came from Austin’s Acid Tongue and Houston’s Miears.
Miears has been tearing up the electronic scene in Houston for a few years now, first with BLSHS and now as a solo artist. We’ll have more on her soon at BSL, but suffice to say she played another spacey set full of layered soundscapes. Joined live by drummer Brendan Hall (The Beans, Nathan Quick Band), the blend of beats, live instruments, and Miears’ signature keytar made for a unique experience.