Review of Yellow EP by Charity

Straight out of Detroit, Michigan, arrives 'Yellow', a marvelously honed R&B/Soul EP from a female artist who goes by the mononym of Charity. With a lucid, sometimes whispery voice, she displays a distinctive style reminiscent of old-school R&B set within the confines of contemporary pop R&B.

Charity Yellow EP

Detroit R&B has its roots in the Motown Sound. The arrangements are simple, with lilting melodies heavy with texture. And Detroit vocalists usually maintain control by means of excellent phrasing, along with strong displays of emotional evocation. Charity demonstrates all these attributes to good effect, producing surprisingly upbeat, cheerful tunes.

'Yellow' comprises four tracks. The first track on the EP is 'Pretty', a Detroit R&B tune with a smooth-as-glass feel. Charity's cool voice, backed up by doo wop harmonies, delivers a peppy, suave performance that is supported by a self-generative melody and a slick arrangement. Lyrically, the song is easy to sing along with, especially when the positive vibes work their way into the listener. And for that reason, 'Pretty' is the highlight of the EP.

The next course on 'Yellow's' musical menu is 'Inspired', a song with Soul undertones spiced up with a thick sauce of R&B. 'Beautiful Moments' combines R&B with echoes of hip hop. The song is driven along by the bass line, and the chorus resounds with brilliant hues of musical color. All these elements produce a tune with radiant depth. 'Undescribable' is the final track. It conveys shadows of Joss Stone, although Charity's voice lacks Stone's gravely aspect. A slower R&B tune, 'Undescribable's' melody is carried by an appealing piano. Still, the piece lacks something, for it doesn't stand out like the three previous tracks.

Charity's voice deserves mention. It's not as distinctive as Joss Stone's or as soulful as Ledisi's. In fact, Charity's voice is quite orthodox. But there's an active quality about it. It's not a passive voice. Her voice projects a particular quality of vulnerability, fervor and a relaxed urgency, an urgency that makes the listener want to continue listening. It's voice that is full of joyful amusement, and as such it carries its own brand of conviction.

The end result is an EP that showcases not only Charity's vocals, but carefully arranged melodies designed to appeal to listeners. 'Yellow' takes Detroit R&B, adds a soft contemporary interpretation, and produces a sound that is fresh and new. Aficionados of R&B will find 'Yellow' well worth their time.