Charles Latham – Little Me Time
Self Released – 2017
Many moons ago, Yours Truly used to prowl the streets of lower Manhattan looking for a soul mate, artistic inspiration, and the perfect breakfast special at a Polish diner. Around the same time Anti-Folk icon Lach was holding court in the venerable Sidewalk Café, part restaurant, part live music venue. Its dusty walls were adorned with artwork from local East Village artists, and the ( non-existent) stage hosted singer-songwriters from the burgeoning Anti-Folk movement. This included even a very young Beck, crashing on couches and trying his luck in the mean streets of Alphabet City before finding fame and fortune in the City of Angels.
Years later Anti-folk has become a worldwide phenomenon, dragging folk out of its Birkenstock coffee shop origins and linking it with the rebellious DIY spirit of punk rock, breathing new life into both genres. Anti-folk was a major inspiration for Charles Latham. An early introduction to Lach’s ramshackle movement made him a lifelong devotee and inspired him to become a co-creator of the Anti-folk Southeast collective in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill region of North Carolina, and a principal organiser of the first annual Anti-folk festival.
After living in six different cities in the US and UK, Latham recently returned to his native North Carolina to begin working on his fourth release, Little Me Time. Recorded outside of his home studio for the first time with the help of some excellent local musicians, the album finds Latham combining his acerbic wit and quirky songwriting with more polished production values.
American Traditional is an acoustic country song with ominous sonic undertones, sarcastically depicting the harsh realities of growing up in small town rural America, a place rife with contradictions, where family and community are all important, steeped in tradition and parochial pettiness. The line “there’s a new dawn coming that’s not a dawn at all” seems like a pretty apt description of Trump’s election.
Will You Let Me Go reads like an encyclopaedic line up of everyday people, the kind of folks no one ever writes about, against a musical backing reminiscent of the glorious sloppiness of Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
Like a Sister is a bittersweet love/anti-love song and, ironically, an irresistibly catchy summer pop tune.
I hope I Didn’t Get Dressed for Nothin’ is a hilarious exercise in self-effacing humour. Over an alt. country backing with weepy pedal steel guitar, the song deals with being stood up by conjuring up endless excuses for the no-show date ( ‘maybe your cell phone ran out of battery’).
Self-effacing humour was always a staple of Anti-folk, and Latham takes this to a new level on Take You for Granted where he bitterly blames himself for losing a lover. The music is pure alt. country, with especially beautiful pedal steel work.
Closer The Living Wage is a sardonic and apt description of the declining standard of living in America that is decimating the middle class and trapping the working class in a state of permanent poverty, while vastly enriching a tiny sliver of the population. Latham really nails the sad state of affairs in the Land of the Free today, where upward mobility is at best a comforting myth, at worst a bad joke.
A Little Me Time is a logical next step in Latham’s career, hopefully exposing his work to a wider audience while maintaining his idiosyncratic artistic vision. Anti-folk has come a long way from the early days at Sidewalk Café, and the music industry is a more colourful place because of it.
Little Me Time is out now and available via Bandcamp
Sunday, May 14 @ 4:00 PM — 6:00 PM
Guitartown presents: Steel String Sessions w/ Charles Latham
Steel String Brewery, Carrboro, NC
Friday, May 19 @ 7:00 PM
King of Cockroaches Closing Party
Guest Room, Carrboro, NC