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Charlotte Hatherley | CD review | 2004

CHARLOTTE HATHERLEY - Grey Will Fade

Review by Anna


On first listen, Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley's first solo LP is not going to be anyone's favourite record. It's filled with excellent songs. Unfortunately, a lot of these excellent songs sound just like the other excellent songs, and one excellent song a good album does not make. New single Summer is a good song that could easily be an anthem for the summer and Rescue Plan, despite unchallenging, is decent enough, but fast-paced Paragon sounds like a race to the finish and all three blur together with memorable download-only single Kim Wilde to make a punchy start to the album.

After four songs bursting with sun-filled energy - Summer, then, is appropriately titled - ballad style Down kicks in. Featuring some of the best lyrics of the album, it's sadly let down by a repetitive one word chorus which leaves you somewhat let down - surely a bandmate of chorus king Tim Wheeler could do better than this for a refrain?

Next track Stop has an Ash-Meltdown vibe; not surprising considering Hatherley herself states that "Some days I would be laying down a track for Ash in the morning before crossing LA to work on my own stuff in the afternoon." Though unmemorable, it's certainly different to the rest of the album, and leads into the more superior tracks on Grey Will Fade.

The second half of the album is far more varied than the first; where the first four songs seem to blur into each other, the last four are a mixed bunch, each one standing out from the previous in its own way. Hatherley seems keen on telling stories in her lyrics - Bastardo is the story of a one night stand, and title track Grey Will Fade (an Ash B-side in 2001) an uplifting message to a school-friend. Both songs are two of the best that the album has to offer with catchy guitar riffs and a sense of direction.

On second, third and fourth listen, Grey Will Fade still isn't going to make anyone's favourite album. If released by a newcomer, we'd be falling at her feet and gushing about her potential, but Hatherley has the disadvantage of being a member of one of the best pop-rock bands of the past ten years and for this sole reason it's hard to judge the album in its own right. For a competent slice of guitar pop, Grey Will Fade is more than worth a listen. For anything more lasting, you might as well buy Ash's 1977.

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