Charise Sowells is a highly accomplished alumna of both New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and Orange County School of the Arts. Her music has gained worldwide recognition, with features in SF Weekly, Ukulele Magazine, and on various blogs and radio stations. NPR has even praised her as an “amazing unsigned act.” Charise has performed on TV and at prestigious music festivals and venues around the globe, including winning “Song of the Year” on a Berlin-based radio show. As a gifted storyteller, Charise writes, directs, and produces scripts for TV, theater, and film, with multiple Grammy FYC ballot nominations. She’s also a voting member of NARAS and registered songwriter with ASCAP.
Charise Sowells has released “Obsolescent Adolescence,” a tantalizing album with a dozen soul-stirring compositions.
Starting with the hauntingly beautiful “Morning Breath,” this work of art takes listeners on an incredible emotional journey. With silky jazz chords and exquisite vocal melodies, the opening song intoxicates the senses, enticing the listener into a state of sensual hypnosis. “Morning Breath” is a psychedelic experience with its mesmerising power and rich combination of sensations.
The next song on the album is “Heartbreak Town.” It is in complete contrast to the first song. The song starts out with Charise’s delicate and sweet voice before gradually escalating into a captivating rhythm. It is a flawless fusion of soulful and pop components, exuding dreamy vibes that take you to a world of pure escape. The cinematic nature of “Heartbreak Town” and Charise’s ethereal vocals taking center stage makes it a true classic that demonstrates the depth and versatility of the artist.
Charise Sowells gives an enthralling performance in “Bedroom Eyes.” The track pulsates with raw sensuality, with passionate vocals reflecting human desire. The lyrics draw the listener in with a tantalizing invitation to dance, producing a genuine sense of closeness and connection. I loved Charise’s soulful vocals and electric beats merged together in a powerful and seductive blend. It makes for an unexpected yet extremely delightful musical experience.
As “Obsolescent Adolescence” rolls on, “I Never Loved You” emerges as the fourth track, an instant classic that hooks you in from the very beginning. With its haunting acoustic guitar riffs and irresistible beats, the tune exudes an air of mystery and melody that lingers long after the last note fades away. Simple yet powerful lyrics draw you into the heart of the song, while subtle nods to retro soundscapes add an extra layer of depth and texture. Charise’s slow and serious vocals add to the dark and enigmatic tone, leaving you captivated and entranced.
“Magical Month” is a musical gem that conjures up a hauntingly nostalgic atmosphere through its emotive vocals and beautiful keys. Its dreamlike soundtrack feels perfect for the spring season when everything blooms anew after the long, dark days of winter. The synths, upbeat keys, and slow beats come together in a mesmerizing blend that transports you to a world of wonder and possibility.
The sixth song on the album, “Even Grace Ages,” explores the age-old issue of whether love can withstand the test of time. The lyrics “Will you love me when my hair turns gray? Will you love me? Will your feelings change?” echo the insecurities that we all have about growing old with our loved ones. The music transports you to a dimly lit bar where the performers can move you with their musical ability. It combines soulful melodies with a hint of electronica and rhythms.
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“Twilight Hour” by Charise Sowells is the longest tune, clocking up at almost 5 minutes. The acoustic guitar dominates, weaving a web of delicate melodies. And, once again, Charise Sowells’ vocals are a revelation, infused with a tangible sense of passion and emotion. With words like “Oh why did you go, when you know I love you so?” the lyrics go into the melancholy region of lost love. I loved how the electric guitar added a bit of raw energy that hit the sweet spot.
The album’s eighth track is titled “Still Waiting.” This song is unlike any other. Charise’s ambient voice and some fantastic, energizing acoustic guitar tones open the song. The chorus and some incredible drum rhythms then take the song to the next level. It also has a retro feel to it. The soundtrack excellently complements the lyrics by capturing mystery, anticipation, and delight.
The ninth track, “I Am The Universe,” marks a sharp departure from the soothing melodies of the previous songs, transitioning into a high-energy experience. The song’s signature electronic elements and disorienting soundscapes at the beginning provide an intense listening experience. However, the chorus explodes with a joyful soundscape, delivering a burst of energy to the listeners. The lyrics “I am good and I am evil, I am flawed and I am perfect, I am lost and I am finally free” express relatable themes of self-discovery and acceptance, perfectly accompanied by the powerful ambiance of the track.
The powerful percussion and Charise’s stunning voice take over the minute “Pura Vida” explodes into the scene. The track’s tribal rhythms are captivating, drawing you in and encouraging you to move your body to the beat. It’s a great song to get you out of a funk or to jam out to while driving. As the song progresses, the rhythm becomes more consistent, and you can’t help but succumb to its mesmerising pulse. I absolutely enjoyed this song!
The 11th track on the album by Charise Sowells, “Validate Me,” perfectly captures the current trend of seeking validation through social media. “Click, like, follow, post, tag, share, engage, save, reply, want me, love me, accept me, approve of me” – these lyrics hit hard and reflect reality. The dark electro-rock tune is the perfect match for this theme, and the ambient vocals enhance the ominous atmosphere.
The comforting, embracing melodies of “Better Day” envelop the listener with happiness and optimism. The smooth vocals are the cherry on top here. Serving as the final song on the album, the track features exuberant guitar riffs, energetic drumming, and Charise’s captivating vocals, all seamlessly melded together.
We recently had an opportunity to have a chat with Charise Sowells about her new album and much more. Keep reading!
1. Hello Charise, let me start by congratulating you on your debut album, “Obsolescent Adolescence.” I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire listening experience. Each song is crafted with great precision and dedication, and the outcome is evident. I was curious about the duration of time it took you to create the entire album.
A: Thank you so much! That means a lot. So, these songs span more than two decades. But I reached out to Midnite Tiger about making an album with them during lockdown. We fine tuned things by sending files back and forth via email for over a year. And then I found the mixing and mastering engineers on SoundBetter for the finishing touches.
2. “Obsolescent Adolescence” is the title of your album. What does this phrase mean to you, and how does it reflect the themes or concepts explored throughout the songs?
A: Like so many others, the pandemic felt like a turning point. And as I worked on this album, listening to the songs as a whole, it occurred to me that they reflected a different chapter in my life – a time of youthful follies, self-discovery, and all around exploration. As young at heart as I still may feel in some regards, this album represents the fading of youth and all the things that come with it. But it also leans into everything that’s on the other side of that because with every end, is a new beginning. So, I arranged the songs according to that story, the sort of abstract timeline of getting older.
3. “Validate Me” addresses the issue of seeking validation through social media. How important do you think it is for artists to tackle relevant social issues through their music?
A: The power of storytelling is undeniable and I believe it’s important for creators to be mindful of that at the very least. Obviously, not everyone uses their talents or platforms for good and that’s okay, but man, can you imagine what a wonderful world it would be if they did?
I realized the power of writing in particular freshman year of high school through an incredibly impactful theater course with Jan Mandell. The following year, I wrote and performed a monologue that made people cry, which inspired me to pursue playwriting at NYU thanks to the suggestion of Steve Whelan, sincerely hoping to change the world with my work.
But, balance is also essential. Not everything needs to be political (although some would argue that existing alone is political). However, the arts have always been a great tool for doing precisely that when the muse moves you.
For instance, in 2019 I produced a very heavy play I wrote, twice in a row. Seeing how it connected with people and changed their preconceived notions about things was so gratifying. But afterwards, I was emotionally drained.
Switching gears to something lighter like writing for children’s TV has been a welcome change. Even so, no matter what I’m making, I consider how it will affect people, not just in terms of entertainment but in terms of messaging. And through the lens of an artist with an activist’s heart, I write accordingly, bringing as much of myself to every project as I can.
4. “Pura Vida” stood out for me. It has such a captivating rhythm. Can you tell us more about how you came up with the idea for this track and what your inspiration was?
A: I love that “Pura Vida” struck a chord with you and that I get to now share the story behind it! Here goes: from 2008-2009 I went to Costa Rica 3x with a friend. Needless to say, I fell in love with the country. We spent nearly 2 months there in total doing all kinds of things: taking a Spanish immersion course, zip-lining, snorkeling, petting sloths, befriending locals, traveling all around the country, and having a blast. We also got sick but hey, that’s part of the adventure!
During one our our stays, we were heading back to the house we’d rented to ride out the rain. It was the wet season, so afternoon rain sort of made for a natural siesta every day. While enroute, we heard drumming in the distance. Being the spontaneous travelers that we are, we followed the sound into an abandoned building full of kids who, as it turns out, were practicing for a parade.
That’s where the rhythmic inspiration came from for this song. Their energy is what I was attempting to capture in the production. It was a sort of beautiful chaos with the drums reverberating off the walls in the middle of a sopping wet rainforest. Everyone was excited and blissed out and we just happened to witness it, the epitome of pura vida personified.
5. Is there a particular track from the album that resonates with you and that you’d like to share with us? What makes it so special to you?
A: “I Am The Universe” is a song that speaks to living beyond the borders and limitations of a world that loves to simplify the complex. On the album, it speaks to that moment in life when you come into your own. When you break free of the expectations of others, or your preconceived notions of them, let go of the past, and embrace living life to the fullest.
6. As someone who writes, directs, and produces, you sure wear a lot of hats! How do you go about starting a new project, and how do you balance all of those different roles?
A: Ha! Well, I mostly just go where the muse moves me for my own projects. Or change gears out of necessity. As far as for things I am hired to do, it really just depends on the opportunities that present themselves, how well they suit me, and what I already have on my plate.
7. I read that you’ve written musical episodes for shows like CoComelon and Vida the Vet. What is it like to write music for a visual medium? Also, how does it vary from writing music for your own albums?
A: Working on those shows has been fascinating all around. The strangest thing is not doing the music as well. When you write lyrics in a script on these shows, that’s it. The music team handles the rest. And to hear how it comes out in the end compared to what I had in my mind initially is a trip. Definitely a new experience for me. Very collaborative but in a different way than I was accustomed to before.
8. What’s next for Charise Sowells? Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations that you’re excited about?
A: Well, I’m working on some cover songs for a documentary film right now and I have some music videos to release. I also have more music in the works for my next album and a short film in post production. So many projects, so little time!
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