Charlotte Church

One & Two

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Venturing forward on her ongoing quest to develop a tougher identity, Charlotte Church released a pair of EPs, appropriately dubbed One and Two, early in 2013, combining the two as a single release just a few months later. Sure enough, when taken as a whole, One & Two do feel cut from the same cloth: despite their flirtations with darkness, they're bright, shimmering pieces of studio pop, occasionally dabbling in the fetishized romanticism of Lana Del Ray. Church is certainly a greater singer than many of her peers, companions, and colleagues, but that doesn't matter much: all that matters is the sheer sonic thrust of her records, and they're colorful and forceful, her conviction playing as determination. Church still loves the machinations of pop just a bit too much -- there's always a sense she'd do anything that'd keep her on the charts -- but she is a gorgeous, intuitive vocalist who seems at home within these richly polished productions. Given the power of her voice, there's always a sense that she'd like to dig a bit deeper than she actually does, but it doesn't really matter: she conveys a depth her music doesn't quite achieve, always pushing herself toward territory her supporting cast avoids. When the music doesn't stick her performance does, and that's enough: she's not a pop singer but she has the willpower to push herself into uncomfortable places, which makes One & Two quite powerful, some of the best music she's made.