When 18-year-old Charlotte Hatherley was head-hunted and plucked from obscurity to join chart-topping Downpatrick rockers Ash, it seemed Indie's young dream had been realised. She and Tim Wheeler were the perfect onstage team – young and sexy and cool with low strung Gibsons and attitude aplenty. It appeared to be a match made in pop heaven, with Hatherley's presence on guitar and harmonies perfectly complementing Ash's knack for writing a killer three-minute tune.
But it seemed the Londoner had some ideas of her own. And in 2004, after nine years with the band, she parted company, just after touring on their fourth album 'Meltdown'. While her time in Ash served to raise her profile, she found herself with the challenge of shrugging away inevitable comparisons when her debut album 'Grey Will Fade' was released. But reviews were favourable with single 'Kim Wilde' gathering excited praise online when it was released for download.
Written and recorded in Italy in the summer of 2006, the eagerly anticipated follow-up was produced by Eric Drew Feldman (producer of Frank Black and Deus), Rob Ellis (best known for his work with PJ Harvey) and Charlotte herself.
The result, 'The Deep Blue', is full of promise, marking Hatherley as a talented solo artist and one to keep a firm eye on. There are interesting influences at play here - The Pixies, Kate Bush and, most notably, XTC. During her recent gig at The Village in Dublin she played a new song, 'This is Pop', which she wrote with Andy Partridge.
At times patchy, Hatherley's often chaotic guitar chords can be hit and miss – while 'I Want You to Know' strikes the target with its 'do wah' pop shot through with bolts of lightning guitar, 'Very Young' feels bombastic and overblown.
However, 'Behave' is a real standout, with its distorted guitar and pretty chorus, sounding Albarn-esque, (incidentally the album is mixed by Ben Hillier who has previously worked with Blur)
Experimental and atmospheric, 'The Deep Blue' might not make the massive splash Hatherley was hoping for but it will undoubtedly lead to greater waters.