I blame the overwrought histrionics of Creed and Coldplay, but somewhere along the line, it became uncool to be emotional in your work in the alternative space. With the exception of The Mountain Goats and The National, the average "indie" band maintains an exhausting facade of cool distance. And bucking that trend is one of many things that makes Charlie Oxford
so special. The Nashville-based songwriter bares his heart through his music, and his voice is instrumental to that sonic vulnerability.
We're premiering Charlie's newest single, "Letting Go," and we also had the chance to chat with Charlie about the track and his new music. With its sweeping strings and lush pop production, it's not at all difficult to imagine "Letting Go" climbing its way up the pop charts. The track is off of Oxford's self-titled debut record (which is due out next month on the 25th), and it has us excited to hear what else Charlie Oxford can do with his powerful, emotive voice and his sharp pop songwriting craft.
Compared to the rest of your self-titled debut record, "Letting Go" almost feels more like an...orchestral country song than the soulful rock on the rest of the album. As someone raised in Texas and currently making music in Nashville, are there any country artists that influenced you as a songwriter?
Charlie Oxford: To be completely honest, right before I was writing "Letting Go" I think I was listening to Madi Diaz's record "Plastic Moon." I definitely see where you are saying it could have some country in it as commercial country music these days is basically pop music. However, I think it definitely lives in the HOT AC/ AAA world. This song came about because I was helping a friend deal with a relationship that was long over and he just could not let go of the situation. I was always taught never to burn a bridge but that one was barely standing from the beginning. (Sorry to get off track :)) Growing up in Texas, I definitely was surrounded by country music though I was really more influenced by soul singers and blues/ rock tunes. But again, living in Texas you can't get away from guys like Steve Earl, Robert Earl Keen, and Willy.
Earlier on the record, songs like "Waiting For" and "Drive Me Crazy" feature ornate and lush production alongside more traditional rock songwriting. What was the mindset when you decided to make such a layered sound?
I think I wanted to make those songs as cool and as big as we possibly could. Those are definitely in my top 3 alongside "Letting Go." I think Adam (my producer) and I just got caught in the production wormhole - kept going and going until there wasn't much more we could think of to make the tracks better. There was an undefinable reference point in my head where I just knew in my gut we got there. It just felt right.
Two artists that spring immediately to mind when I listen to the album are Allen Stone (the soulful nature of the record) and John Mayer (the guitar licks). What do you think it is about the genre that has made soulful guitar rock such a timeless sound?
You nailed it on the head. I've been listening to Mayer since his first acoustic EP. He's one of the best pop writers of the last 20 years and he's at that place for a reason. Guys like him make other writers strive to be better. Allen Stone, on the other hand, has rejuvenated soul music. His self-titled album was an amazing record. I've probably listened to it 100 times at least. I think the reason why music like this sticks with people is because the groove and melodies are so strong without having to hit every single note on the fretboard. It's about making something simple seem a lot more complex than it is. And it just feels really good! It's music that makes people happy.
With your album's release date nearing, what is the next stop for Charlie Oxford?
I'm really excited for this album to be out. It's been a long road to get here. There will be a bit of touring and then for next year I've got a couple projects in the works. One of which is finished and ready to go with some new music on there. I'm thinking maybe February and then early summer but we will see how things go with the release of the album and go from there.