Carla J. Easton is a singer-songwriter from Glasgow. Having released one album with all-girl band TeenCanteen and another under the alias of Ette, both to critical acclaim, the release of Easton’s first solo album under her own name has been eagerly awaited. Largely written and recorded in Canada, and co-produced by the distinguished Howard Bilerman (who has worked with artists of the stature of Arcade Fire and Leonard Cohen), Impossible Stuff has been a labour of love for Carla J. Easton. The result is a veritable feast of exuberant and intelligent indie-pop songs, overflowing with killer hooks and bold, imaginative and multi-textured arrangements, Easton’s unique take on a Spector-esque ‘Wall of Sound’, if you will. The sheer quality and class of the songs is maintained throughout the album and each one is a potential single.
The album opener, Dreamers On The Run, has Carla J. Easton’s quietly impassioned vocal underpinned by a simple piano motif and subtle cello, and builds steadily towards the heady closing choruses, carried along triumphantly by a choir, a swell of strings, rumbling organ and…tubular bells. Title track Impossible Stuff is a tour de force, alternating between sparky, playful verses and towering choruses and, following some elegant piano in the middle eight, launching into a delightfully trippy series of repeated choruses buoyed along by a euphoric choir and some pleasingly offbeat strings and synths. (”…impossible stuff, just to feel all your love, oh, I’d do anything for you…”). Dance beats, burbling synths and Easton’s swaggering vocals feature in Lights In The Dark. The free-flowing and joyous Meet Me In Paris is notable for bouncy piano riffs, syncopated drums/hand claps and hints of sitar.
The middle section of the album provides hints as to some of Carla J. Easton’s song-writing influences. The poignant love song Never Had The Words, featuring an intimate vocal from Easton, might have emanated from the pens of Goffin and King in mid-1960s New York (“…I’ve never had the words to lie, you can see it in my eyes…”), while the charming Girl From Before, with its swooning strings, smoochy piano and breathless and half-whispered vocals, recalls the 1950s/1960s heyday of US female singing groups like The Ronettes and The Shirelles. 1970s US New Wave seems to be the touchstone for the adrenaline–fuelled Milk And Honey, which is driven along by rippling piano, jagged guitar riffs and punchy horns (“…If I’m the sugar in your tea, you’re the spoon that’s spooning me…”). The insanely catchy
Wanting What I Can’t Have, with its anthemic chorus and an irresistible combination of piano, synths, bass ‘n drums and horns, has all the hallmarks of The Beatles in their late-period pomp.
The penultimate song, Vagabond, is a beautifully constructed, bruised and bittersweet ballad, featuring prominent synth, plangent guitar and a heartfelt and pleading vocal (“…My vagabond, this is the place where you belong…it’s killing me that you’re running away, running away, boy, just stay with me…”). The album closes in style with the ambitious and enigmatic Lullaby, which rejoices in gentle piano, shimmering guitar, stately strings, mariachi-style horns towards the fade-out and a gently soaring vocal from Carla J.Easton.
With Impossible Stuff, Carla J. Easton has conjured up a gem of an album, which sets a benchmark for exuberant and innovative indie-pop in this country.
Impossible Stuff is released on 5th October 2018 via Olive Grove Records.