This King Charles article was written by Natalie Whitehouse, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Ben Kendall.
He’s a romantic soul, is King Charles. Four years ago the quirky figure, with his wild hair and waxed mustache, treated us to ‘Love Blood,’ a delightfully high-tempo, passion-fuelled album that was both beautifully written and performed.
His return sees all things love and romance at the forefront once more, again managing to find the perfect balance between fierce and gentle with ‘Gamble For A Rose,’ the follow up to his 2012 debut. It shows a clear progression: the desire is still there, but the tracks are much more stripped back, a touch more relaxed in places, with a heavy importance placed upon King Charles’ stunning vocal ability – which has strengthened with age and experience.
As ever, King Charles blurs the lines between poet and songwriter. Album opener ‘Loose Change For The Boatman’ has hints of Passenger, playing with words and delivering them slowly, quickly, changing pace with all the talent of an artist who is four or five albums deep into his career. It’s abundantly clear: King Charles is well within his comfort zone.
It’s rare that the opener is the album’s highlight, yet that’s not to say that the remainder of the record falters in any way. The record is laced with stunning instrumentals, which lend themselves perfectly to the lyrical prowess of King Charles; “Oh desire consumes me, like a fire consumes me,” he purrs on ‘Animal Desires,’ plucking words from his infinite pool of lyrical beauty. There’s a real depth of emotion in his lyrics; it’s all love, romance and heartbreak and yet it’s delivered in such a poignant way that it’s far from clichéd.
Most noticeable is the influence of Mumford and Sons. With the album being produced by friend of King Charles, Marcus Mumford, the folk rock band’s sound trickles into every song, almost completely enveloping ‘Choke,’ another of the album’s standout tracks. You’d be forgiven for assuming it was indeed a new Mumford track upon first listen; yet Charles’ trademark gorgeous lyrics: “but then the burden of your beauty and your innocence tempted you away, ‘till we had nothing left,” ensure the song remains his own.
The album’s title track is a beautiful little number; soft guitar and delicate piano staying with us from finish to end. Yet as the album progresses we enter a darker place. The guitar a little grungier in ‘St Peter’s Gate,’ before we’re treated to ‘Tomorrow’s Fool,’ encompassing a sublime guitar solo, matched by fierce vocals once more.
The closest we get to King Charles of old, comes from ‘New Orleans;’ its sound startlingly close to ‘Love Lust’; but it’s so much stronger, so much more progressive. King Charles has matured, and a nod to his past endeavors – whether just a coincidence or placed here on purpose – just cements how much he himself has grown in his four years away.
And then the album closer, ‘Coco Chitty,’ a re-vamped version of the ‘Love Blood’ track, ensures this progression is surely not lost on the listener. The production slightly more polished, the tempo slowed down to make it fit perfectly with the rest of ‘Gamble For A Rose.’ Where ‘Love Blood’ was quirky and excitable, its predecessor is calmer, refined and elegant: it’s the closest to perfection King Charles has reached in his career thus far.
King Charles has replaced quirky with strength, yet ensured the passion and importance still remains. He has returned with a stronger, much more mature sound, living up to the title he has rightly placed upon himself.
‘Gamble For A Rose’ is out now via Buffalo Gang Limited.