“Her debut for Rounder Records, Mint Condition follows Spades and Roses—a 2017 release praised by American Songwriter as “an album of stunning beauty and lasting impact.” In bringing Mint Condition to life, Spence worked with producer Dan Knobler (Lake Street Dive, Erin Rae) and recorded at his Nashville studio Goosehead Palace, landing a guest appearance from Emmylou Harris and enlisting musicians from Spence’s previous projects and live band. “It’s wonderful to step into a room full of people who already know me,” says Spence. “They have this unspoken understanding of my instincts, so it made the whole process really comfortable and collaborative.”
Whitten has previously released a few pieces under his own name but says he “enjoys being sideman just as much as a singer-songwriter.” Pretty obvious that he enjoys it when you can catch Charlie playing guitar for Andrew Combs and Becca Mancari. He’s also played and sang with Molly Parden, Erin Rae McKaskle, Caleb Groh, Chrome Pony, and his current side project, Stationwagon; a band of tall songwriters and friends featuring Mark Fredson, Pete Lindberg, Andrew Hunt, Brett Resnick. You can hear bits a pieces from his heroes Jim Croce, Don McLean and Harry Nilsson in his songs. There’s a bit of Rayland Baxter in his arrangements as well.
Dreaming, Whitten’s 2012 debut, channeled some of the trippier sounds that came out of those two decades, from Dark Side of the Moon to Big Star’s Sister Lovers. The album was lush. It was dreamy. Keyboards, horns, and percussion collided, creating a soft foundation for Whitten’s vocals and guitar leads. When it came time to write songs for 2014’s Hey Love, though, Whitten took the electric guitar out of the forefront and focused on a quieter, stripped-down sound. In other words: less David Gilmour, more Don McLean.
Charlie Whitten’s new EP, Playwright, was released August 25th. The whole thing is phenomenal, a quick 4-song EP showcasing a moment in time for the young songwriter. The writing on each of these tracks is wonderful and points to Whitten’s budding brilliance but the up-tempo, jaunty, pining of “Since She’s Gone”, with it’s entwining of heart-break, acceptance and humility is really impressive.
Charlie Whitten grew up during the last gasp of the 20th century, a time when grungy rock bands and teen idols ruled the airwaves. You can’t blame the guy for looking back a bit, for rustling through his Dad’s collection of vintage records and finding some better music to soundtrack his life. Years later, the Nashville-based songwriter is rolling those influences into his own sound, a mellow brand of folk-rock that tips its hat to Pink Floyd’s psychedelic swirl one minute and Simon and Garfunkel’s acoustic wistfulness the next.
Some would call him an old soul. Others would just say he’s got good taste.