Christina Carter was born in Houston, Texas in 1968, and in 1991 became the co-founder of the renowned free-folk group Charalambides. More recently she has pursued a fascinating parallel career as a solo artist and collaborator using voice, guitar (both electric and acoustic) and piano.

Christina utilizes the spare single guitar/voice form found in much of the group’s music. Her music is brave and spiritually transporting and she is really on a roll at the moment having released two quite amazing albums this year already – Masque Femine (Many Breaths Cdr) & Texas Working Blues (Blackest Rainbow, cassette).

The bad news is that both are extremely limited editions, the former with a run of 80 copies, the latter 200. This means you have to be quick of the mark if you want a physical copy.

The good news is that the excellent music blog Microphones In The Trees have done a major public service in providing download links to both these albums. They certainly deserve to reach a wider audience.


Cover of Masque Femine

The beauty of these small scale releases is that they allow greater scope for experimentation and capture moods in a spontaneous way.

Quite what target audience Christina has in mind for these recordings is impossible to say and I suspect she doesn’t care too much. To make polished, technically perfect versions is unnecessary since there’s no commercial objective here.

The tunes are like a highly personal musical diary. Christina experiments with ways in which her voice can capture her feelings in their rawest state. Texas Working Blues (6t – 49.33) is more similar to her work with Charalambides while Masque Femine (16t – 34.05) is a stunningly original work – only three tracks have any instrumental content and these have only the simplest strummed guitar as backing. The result is such an intimate listening experience that I feel I’m trespassing into a very private space.

The tracks are chiefly song fragments, not so much cover versions as half remembered tunes dealing mostly with lost or unrequited love. It is such a quietly compelling record in which her voice often breaks or falters. She constantly sounds on the verge of tears and barely able to summon strength for each line. The emotionally charged intensity she conveys is absolutely breathtaking.