Charley Charles

The Other Side

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Born in Nigeria and based in southern California, Charley Charles has a back story (hardscrabble poverty, local acclaim, followed by a tough but ultimately successful trip to America to follow his muse) that is unfortunately considerably more interesting than his music. Based on the sound of his debut album, The Other Side, Charles immigrated to the United States to realize his dream of playing the sort of ultra-smooth adult contemporary easy listening pop that plays in waiting rooms the world over. To give you an idea, the only cover on The Other Side is of Michael Bolton's 1989 hit "Soul Provider." And Charles' version makes Michael Bolton sound like Otis Redding. Yes, sadly, this record is just that cheesy. It's a shame, because Charles has an appealing voice; at times, as on the subtly reggae-tinged "It's Your Love," he sounds a little bit like Black Uhuru's Michael Rose, a high compliment indeed, and the perky "Free Your Mind" has a perfectly nice, bouncy melody. Perhaps producer and co-songwriter Steve Zelman is to blame for the antiseptic production and egregiously mellow, background-music-on-The Weather Channel vibe of songs like the overdramatic "Rainbow," but no matter: The Other Side is an album primarily of interest to those who need something new to use as on-hold music for their office switchboards.

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