Published Jan 13, 2021Pearl Charles may have released Magic Mirror in January, but it's far from being a wintery album with a drab tone. The singer-songwriter's second LP is a blissful journey of cosmic country, disco and poppy psych rock that dances its way into the new year. Magic Mirror is a young woman's trip through a whirlwind of self-reflection and self-discovery.
Charles has doubled down on her unique sound of '60s- and '70s-inspired country-disco since the release of her debut album, Sleepless Dreamer, and since her time performing in country duo the Driftwood Singers. "Only for Tonight" kickstarts the album with a glittery bang — a song that channels ABBA's discography, made to light up a dance floor. "What I Need" immediately calms listeners down from the heat of the opener with its cool and breezy twangs about prioritizing yourself in a relationship, even if it hurts.
As much jubilant fun as Charles has on this album, she equally expresses moments of self-doubt, loneliness and introspection. On "Don't Feel Like Myself," she sings of being too scared to die, yet barely feeling alive; the charming country lilt in her vocals uplifts the sound and keeps it from sounding outright sad. On the album's title track, she croons, "My eyes are red, my heart is blue" atop warm piano and organ chords. By marrying the sunny instrumentals and the darker, soul-searching lyrics, Charles highlights that these contrasting emotions often coexist with one another in life. It's wholly possible to crank the music up in the car, roll down the windows, and tap your foot along to the beat while feeling a little bit empty inside at the same time.
"As Long As You're Mine" closes the album, accented by silky horns that sound straight out of an Otis Redding song, where Charles professes that she will always be there for someone she loves, showing that even if love gets complicated, it can always be found and restored again. On Magic Mirror, Charles may be self-doubting and even gloomy at times, but she never loses her glowing spirit and hope for the many more adventures her life will lead her on. (Kanine Records)