The bass player walks when walking is needed. The lyrics don’t mess around, even when they’re describing the act of messing around. And the singer, occasional waitress, ex-Amazon clock-puncher and unassuming country thrush Charlie Marie, lets her voice catch in her throat exactly when the scene she’s describing gets a tad overwhelming. And, as we know from life in general and country music in particular, things get a tad overwhelming more and more these days. Don’t worry, Marie ain’t a wilting flower who only delivers glum valentines in a succession of heartache tunes. In a key song from her Ramble On album, she calls her good-looking, over-controlling, soon-to-be-ex an “asshole” while leveling-up in the self-respect department. “What a pity,” she says shrugging off their demise, “baby I’m a tough kitty.” Strong records are littered with those kind of memorable moments, and Ramble On, Marie’s debut if you don’t count a couple here-and-gone EPs a few years ago, has its fair share. The Rhode Island-based singer came up on Patsy Cline, tried her hand at college classes and open-mic nights in Music City, and has honed a yen for classic country without abandoning modern pop instincts. Several Ramble On songs are catchy as hell. Up-tempo tunes are a forte. Everything clicks when Marie gallops through bouncy swingers like “Bad Seed” and “Ramble On Man.” And she sounds quite comfy reminding us that a little backbeat never hurt a honkytonk aura; between the liquid steel guitar and saucy Wurlitzer on “40 Miles To Memphis,” this Ocean State cowgirl proves that she shines with the oomph of a band behind her. Indie country records are hit or miss, and when something sticks out, it’s wise to shout about it. Charlie Marie has made a great little album, one that not only boasts a song called “Heard It Through the Red Wine” (yes, the depth of the performance equals the wit of the title as she explains how merlot can be a truth serum), but one that makes you want to hit the replay button as soon as you’re done with it. Twang now has a hot cup of Dunkin in its hand.
Charlie Marie plays the Rhythm Stage at the Rhythm and Roots Festival on Saturday at 1 pm