|2015 The River Flows|
The Age 20th Nov
|2012 Into The Blues (Black Market Music)|
Al Hensley – Rhythms Magazine December 2012
Anyone who has read his contributions as a regular scribe for Rhythms, has seen him perform live over the last 25 years, or has listened to his recorded output would appreciate the extent of Nick Charles’ musical knowledge and expertise over a wide range of roots music. His guitar virtuosity is best exemplified however, in blues expression. “Into the Blues” takes Charles full circle back to the beginning of his musical journey of discovery when he was first transfixed by the music of Big Bill Broonzy, Blind Blake, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Boy Fuller, Tampa Red, Scrapper Blackwell and Robert Johnson. Playing six and twelve-string acoustic guitars, resophonic guitars and mandolin with dazzling finesse, Charles performs both in solo mode and with ensemble backing comprising Howard Cairns on double bass, Michael Jordan on drums, Bruce Haymes on piano and his old running partner Alex Burns on harmonica. From his warm, expressive vocals to his dexterous fingerpicking and earthy slide, Charles’ mastery of the country blues in its various shapes and forms is striking. Whether it’s pre-war jazz inflected picking in the style of Lonnie Johnson, folk blues, Delta or Piedmont, Charles is the consummate talent. And besides impeccable readings of songs by Broonzy, Hurt, Tampa Red, Otis Rush and Peter Keane, his self-penned compositions here reflect an aggregation of all those influences.
|2010 Return of the Travelling Fingerpicker|
|Australian Release||Rest of World Release (incl. 4 Bonus tracks)|
Return of the Travelling Fingerpicker
Once upon a time, every acoustic guitarist worth his salt employed a fingerpicking technique. Nowadays it's something of a dying art. Return of the Travelling Fingerpicker showcases one of the finest exponents of this style in Australia. Melbourne's Nick Charles may bot possess he razzle-dazzle of the likes of Tommy Emmanuel and Michael Fix, but there's no lack of bravura. Charles uses not overdubbing or studio trickery, or accompaniment on his self-produced third solo album. What you get is 10 original instrumentals, two covers and two standards, ll performed on steel-string guitar in a wide range of styes. That his own compositions Lullaby For Hamish and Paul’s Song are as melodious as Lennon and McCartney’s I Will underlines the artist's ear for a tune. Charles’s version of crowd-pleaser Lily Was Here delivers more that Candy Dulfer's original recording. Of the original pieces, Back in the Day proves a natural sequel to the Joplinesque Silent Movie, and the later a perfect companion to the elegant December Rag, The guitarist gets down and dirty on Kelpie Blues, bending the strings on his battered dobro with the zeal of a Mississippi Delta veteran, While Heartstarter would have made for a livelier opener than the title cut you can understand why the old trouper opts to save the best 'til last.
|2008 Closer to Home (Black Market Music)|
Closer to Home (Black Market Music)
Melbourne guitarist Nick Charles continues to write highly accessible melodies that insinuate themselves into your consciousness. On his latest album, the acoustic player delivers a dozen tracks that range from folk and blues to bluegrass, ragtime and jazz.
It’s familiar territory, but superbly executed with understated skill and finesse. Mostly backed by dobro, double bass and fiddle, Charles includes gentle vocals – notably a delightfully sardonic original called “You Can’t Change A Thing” and his casual rendition of Bob Dylan’s One Too Many Mornings. A highlight is the relaxed “New Memphis Blues”, inspired by W.C. Handy and augmented by Ian Collard’s blues harp, with Charles dipping his fingers into Django Reinhardt’s nimble technique. Another standout, “Elizabeth Mary”, is dedicated to Nick’s mother (“who finally relented and paid for my first guitar lessons”). It’s a beautiful, extended, atmospheric instrumental, reinforced by bassist Howard Cairns, with splashes of dobro colour from Pete Fidler. But the solo guitar pieces are what really set Charles apart, including his evocative “Las Cruces” and a splendid blues-swing treatment of “Yesterdays”. You can hear Charles solo or with his quartet at various venues, including a May 9 concert at Melbourne University’s Melba Hall.(details: www.charlesguitar.com )
MIKE DALY (THE AGE, April 3, 2008)
|2005 New Kind of Feeling (Blackmarket Music)|
Nick Charles: New Kind Of Feeling
The Age - Melbourne 9 Feb 2006 - Green Guide
Nick Charles plays acoustic
guitar with the deceptive ease
of a virtuoso. Having
consolidated his Australian reputation, he’s been
winning plaudits overseas
and was recently signed to
California’s Solid Air
Records. His latest local
release, New Kind of Feeling,
is not so much a departure
as a logical, upbeat
progression with several appealing vocal tracks and
the emphasis on original
compositions. Charles has
technique to burn: check out
the finger-twisting First
Crossing and Ribcracker, or
the supple ragtime on
The Shearwater Shuffle. Yet
the emphasis is always on
melody and feel, the music
accessible and audiences —
pickers and punters alike —
are never disappointed. One
cover sure to win airplay on
grown-up FM is Peter
Green’s spaced-out Albatross.
The standout is Say What
You Mean, marrying laconic
vocals with a great jazzyblues
closes with the pensive, rainbacked
Bus Station Blues, but
adds an extra, unlisted track
with a neat variation on
Basin Street Blues.
|2004 'Travelling Fingerpicker' (Blackmarket Music)|
"every movement is logical; every phrase musical....his Ship to Shore should be a standard."
Rhythms Magazine, March 2004
You don’t quite realize just what a fine player Nick Charles is until you see him close up. The fingers literally fly across the frets as if more than two and a half decades of performing, recording and touring have honed his skills to perfection.
Having released the acclaimed albums, “My Place” and “Grace Notes”, it seems to me that the latest album, his back-to-basics record, is Charles’ most accomplished work. It runs through a gamut of styles on the ten original songs and two covers – almost a potted history of the guitarist’s influences. Charles notes that the album reflects his musical journey over the years - a journey that was inspired in his youth by a Big Bill Broonzy record.
The music moves from the gentle “Ship to Shore” and “Two Wells” through the “St. Jude Rag” into Norman Blake’s “Down at Millows House” while the other original compositions range from the sublime, as on “Anywhere with You” to the jaunty “Deep Creek Turnaround”. Charles’ interpretation of Lennon and McCartney’s “Norwegian Wood” unfolds beautifully, breathing new life into a melody we must have heard thousands of times before.
Of course, a large part of the enjoyment of Travelling Fingerpicker also has to do with the fabulous sound of the Santa Cruz Dreadnought guitar (and its heavy steel strings) along with the engineering of Chris Corr, who manages to get an extraordinarily rich, warm sound.
I daresay there are much flashier guitarists, who have a higher profile, but they don’t play with the sort of feeling you can hear on this album. While I recently had the opportunity to watch Charles from a few feet away in some radio studios and have marvelled at his skills - which I am not sure that I ever fully appreciated before - I also saw him from a more distant vantage point at the recent album launch and was equally impressed with his stagecraft.
Charles has performed at international festivals from Edinburgh to Kansas, including a recent trip to the US, and he supported people such as BB King, Taj Mahal, Guy Clark, Chris Smither and Dan Crary. Over the years his presence on stage has developed substantially, an achievement for one who seems to be naturally quiet. These days he will preface his songs with brief stories, humorous remarks and, at the launch, he even managed to deal skillfully with an over-enthusiastic fan who felt obliged to give a running commentary from the floor. This was almost as impressive as the music - it is hard enough being on stage with a just a guitar as a shield.
It is easy to understand while Charles has been getting such a great response overseas and why his album launch was packed. Travelling Fingerpicker is dazzling in its musicianship and something that hopefully might act as a calling card for even bigger things.
Australian Guitar Magazine
Although Charles has the chops of a John Fahey or Peter Lang, his songwriting never comes second to technique. The Aussie has a well-developed melodic sense: every movement is logical; every phrase musical. His Two Wells should be a standard, and his Angie-inspired Jasmine and cover of Norwegian Wood are magical.
|2002 'Grace Notes' (Blackmarket Music)|
The Age, May 2002
Fingerpickers rejoice: Nick Charles is back with another elegant, six-stringed saunter across the soundbox. His solo debut, My Place, revealed this local musician to be an exceptional acoustic guitarist and Grace Notes reinforces the point. A more focused recording, it contains nine original melodies among the 10 tracks (the exception is a freehand rendition of Spanish Harlem) and Charles ranges across folk-blues, ragtime, jazz and bluegrass.
Standouts include stylish nods to Kenny Burrell on the cool, flamenco-accented Kenny’s Blues, and to Chet Atkins on Walkin’ the Blues, accompanied by double bassist Howard Cairns and violinist Matthew Arnold.
Favourite track: Sometimes the Way is Clear, a beautiful, swelling, hymn-like refrain featuring Chris Bitcon on lap-dobro, bassist Cairns, and crisp guitar and mandolin from Charles. Turn up the volume and give the sub-woofer its head!
|2000 'My Place' (Blackmarket Music)|
The Age, February 2000
Melbourne guitarist Nick Charles has grasped the nettle and put out an outstanding instrumental work of acoustic rags and fingerpicking ballads. He wrote seven of the 13 tracks, which also include chestnuts from Joni Mitchell, Doc Watson and John D. Loudermilk.
Reminiscent of Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed in the early ‘70s, My Place is an understated masterpiece for the ever-composed Charles. It will astonish listeners with its brilliantly coloured lines. The Loudermilk fingerpicking charmer Windy and Warm is impressive in its artistic bravado.
Solo instrumental albums like My Place are a risk, but Charles triumphs. Stuffed full of surprises and instrumental undercurrents, it creates the impression of a small lyrical string combo at play, as demonstrated by Doc’s Guitar, creating its own pictures. In this case, a fast-forward chase up an Appalachian mountain the 1930s will do.
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