Her classical training since the age of 7 may have had her pointed toward the Met, but instead Charlotte Martin recently hooked up with Liz Phair and company to play this summer's Chicks with Attitude tour. And the 27-year-old singer-pianist's full-length debut (which follows last year's four-song EP In Parentheses) clearly shows that the opera world's loss is pop music's gain. With her accomplished musicality and an orchestral grandeur, the former Miss Teen Illinois brings a classicism to her approach on sweeping, piano-driven ballads. Martin's pure, ethereal soprano, which at times recalls Kate Bush, and her lithe keyboard work, which calls to mind Tori Amos, make for an artful (if occasionally arty) combo. Meanwhile, the lyrics on On Your Shore are awash in evocative imagery. "You slip through me like grains of sand you still don't understand," Martin sings on the lush title tune. Other highlights include the emotion-drenched single "Every Time It Rains" and the gorgeous "Beautiful Life." She also does a lovely rendition of the Rolling Stones gem "Wild Horses" (the only song Martin didn't write), backed only by her own piano. While in the end Martin's studied grace doesn't exactly qualify her as a chick with attitude, she'd be perfect if Sarah McLachlan ever brought back Lilith Fair.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "BEAUTIFUL LIFE"