With all those issues like having kiss-and-tell bad boyfriends, weight problems, showbiz Mom and Dad, and everything else blown up and published in tabloids for all to mock and sneer at, it’s no wonder that Charlotte Church, upon reaching that age where she is legally an adult and therefore can do what she wants, will pull a radical image-change and release a CD filled with songs that will shock that granny who expects Ms Church here to sound exactly like that lifeless sweet soprano that sang about angels and Swatch watches.
One listen to the opening Call My Name which sees Ms Church pulling off blues like Joss Stone would as she purrs about loving the sound of her lover’s clothes ripping and it will be obvious that this Ms Church is intent on having fun her own way and in her own terms. Crazy Chick shows that Ms Church has some self-awareness at least as she sings and rocks out her angst about how crazy she can be like you can never imagine. “I need professional help!” she shrieks as she invites everyone to shake their heads and walk like an Egyptian to. Yes, she sounds a little like The Bangles there mixed with Joss Stone. However, after these two tracks, I can’t help feeling cheated when I expect more rocky-bluesy fabulous upbeat numbers like those two only to get too many ballads instead. There’s Let’s Be Alone, which is a rather derivative dance number that sees Ms Church using her soprano to do some haunting banshee-wailing. I have to laugh when I imagine how those people who can’t accept this non-muzak version of Charlotte Church will react to this song. They must feel that Ms Church is mocking them by putting her soprano to use the way they would like her to keep doing, only this time she’s singing to a bassline-heavy track that these muzak-lovers will want to vomit to.
Of the many slow numbers that are present on Tissues And Issues, I love the somewhat mid-tempo Moodswings (To Come at Me Like That). The lyrics are generic rants about how tough life was for Ms Church while living in the pressure cooker of fame and how people were always out to use and abuse her (every singer has to have at least one song of that subject, I suppose), but the chorus of this song soars beautifully and crescendos in a larger-than-life manner towards the end. Other ballads like Finding My Own Way and Fool No More are very adult in terms of melody and Ms Church has the ability pull off these songs with sophistication and maturity to give them a powerful emotional punch on the listener. Casualty 0f Love and Confession Song are almost heartbreaking to listen to as Ms Church sings with a piercing vulnerability about how life can really give one lemons. I especially love Even God, however, with its bombastic strings and a heartrending melody that breaks the heart to pieces, a fact that Ms Church presses to her full advantage by singing like a grieving angel on this song.
While unfocused in the sense that Ms Church is experimenting with all kinds of mainstream pop sounds while remaining radio-friendly at the end of the day, Tissues and Issues is nonetheless a mature and well-produced effort that showcases how Charlotte Church intends to sound like when she fully grows up. This CD lacks that special track that distinguishes her from her contemporaries like Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, and other pop strumpets, but I’m sure that when she can make up her mind what sound she wants to embrace and call her own, I’ll be waiting eagerly for the music that results.