Carah Faye Charnow
October 16th, 2017
Hearing new music from one of your favorite musicians is a lot like be reacquainted with an old friend. Like many of her fans, my first introduction to Carah Faye Charnow was with Shiny Toy Guns’ 2006 rerelease of their debut album “We Are Pilots”. The band’s unique music style immediately hooked me. There was something exceptional about the way the band’s music utilized the amazing range of Charnow’s vocals to craft such an authentic, emotional sound. The world was in such a chaotic period, and having an incredibly positive and energetic band was exactly what the music industry needed. Shiny Toy Guns are a fun band, and it’s because of the musical chemistry that Charnow has with bandmates Chad Petree, Jeremy Dawson, and Mikey Martin.
When Charnow left the band in 2008, so many of us were left with an empty hole where she had been. Shiny Toy Guns’ sophomore release, ‘Season of Poison’, was such a dramatic shift from their debut, especially with Sisely Treasure replacing Charnow. It was the same band, but everything was different. Not knowing the band politics behind the reason for the depature, it felt as though Charnow had abandoned us. In reality though she was regrouping and taking the time to focus on herself and where her new music would come from.
A few years later, Charnow would reemerge with new music and a new band, Versant. Co-founded with her then boyfriend, Daniel Johansson, Versant was what we had all hoped Shiny Toy Guns’ sophomore release would have been. Charnow had found her footing again and crafted another spectacular album with Versant’s debut EP.
Soon after, Charnow would rejoin Shiny Toy Guns with Johansson, and the band would release their 3rd album, appropriately titled ‘III’. Charnow’s vocals were more prevalent than on the band’s debut release, and their style incorporated more of the style Charnow had utilized for Versant’s release. Charnow made it a point to tell Versant’s fans that Versant was still active and new music was on the horizon. Sadly though Johansson and Charnow parted ways shortly after ‘III’ was released, marking the end of that musical era.
I had the chance to talk to Charnow after Shiny Toy Guns’ March 2013 set about how it felt being back with the band, her future plans and if there’s a chance of hearing more from Versant.
I could see the honesty and pain behind her eyes while she spoke of her recent break up with her Versant co-founder Daniel Johansson. “I can’t imagine continuing with Versant,” she admitted. “That was something created out of love, and while I’ll always love Daniel with all my heart, you can’t force the music, something like that to happen.”
When I asked her how it felt to be back with Chad, Mikey and Jeremy, her eyes lit up. “They feel like home. It’s great to be back where I belong.” But what did the future hold for Charnow? “We’re working on new music for the next (Shiny Toy Guns) album or EP, but keep your eyes open. You’ll also be hearing new music from me, as a solo artist, in the very near future.”
3 years later, and her hard work has come to fruition. In between touring with Shiny Toy Guns, Charnow has performed several solos shows to showcase her own original material. Her solo sets have included tracks that will hopefully be released on her as yet untitled full-length debut. While her live sets included Machine, Sirens, Don’t Say a Word, No Good At Goodbye, Lovers to Enemies, Good Kids with Bad Tempers, Lights Out, Change In the Water, and Do Ya, she chose to release Gold Plated as her current single.
‘Gold Plated’ is an synth driven, electric laced, hip hop, pop classic. Charnow’s ethereal vocals bend and weave through a driving sonic landscape. While ‘Gold Plated’ is more hip hop inspired than her previous single ‘Don’t Say a Word’, Charnow’s vocals continue to shine and soar. There’s a certain thunder that she’s captured within the track by utilizing her extensive career to craft an incredibly unique sound for her solo music.
If you’re expecting a sequel to Versant, or a parallel to Shiny Toy Guns, you won’t find it with ‘Gold Plated’ and I doubt anywhere on her full-length release either. While not stressed, strained or auto-tuned, Charnow’s main vocals exude a sense of urgency in the track, pleading for forgiveness from an unspoken lover during the track’s choruses. Pounding beats are woven into majestic vocals. I imagine wisps of smoke drifting from a burning candle then erupting into sparks as the bass hammers and crashes into the harmonized vocals of the backup choir. There are so many aural layers utilized to create ‘Gold Plated’, but they’re not overly complicated or muddled by excessive or unnecessary production.
There’s a sense of empowerment found also. It takes a strong person to create music from some an intimate place, and in a world of pre-fabricated, lip syncing musicians, Charnow is exactly what we need. I for one am extremely excited to hear what new music she’ll unleash upon the world.