Charlie Sohmer
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Charlie Sohmer

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That’s living alright. If country can be groovy, this new album from Canadian Charlie Sohmer knows how to shake its thing. There’s a simplicity to the voice and songs that’s reminiscent of John Prine – and it’s a similarly deceptive simplicity, disguising an emotional depth charge. There’s some interesting stuff; the sinister Waitsian whisper on ‘Cissy Bon’, for example. Other songs are in the storytelling tradition, with gamblers, bad women and cars dominant. But the tracks that stand out are those that try to convey honestly the emotions of a man looking back on the 55 years of his life, facing the lost opportunities and constraints of being born without a silver spoon. This is moving stuff, hidden behind that groovy country twang and a fondness for a singalong chorus. March 27, 2006 - americana-uk.com


There’s nothing fancy about Ottawa singer/songwriter Charlie Sohmer; his voice is simply what it is and his delivery basically gets the job done. But gosh, this boy knows how to put together a story including, this time around, the “Let me be your lovin’ daddy’ tune Lean In A Little Closer, the going-over-Jordan song Take My Possessions, and the dandy little tale of life in the old west The Queen of Kentucky, starring a lady of easy virtue, a card game, and a double barroom death. Accompanying himself on banjo and helped out by Burke Carroll on dobro and Keith Glass on guitar, Sohmer casts an easy-going spell with his mix of Appalachian, gospel, western swing and old-style country. - Ottawa Citizen


Charlie Sohmer is an Ottawa-based singer/songwriter and self-confessed banjo playing fanatic. This marks his fifth album release; and it’s filled with all original folk/country and roots flavoured songs. Sohmer delivers the material with a somewhat unique vocal style – certainly not smooth, but gritty and gutsy enough to keep you listening, and finding special little nuances with each listen. It’s Charlie Sohmer’s songwriting that is the main attraction here … a lot of this would fit snugly alongside the works of writers like Tom Russell, Ian Tyson and Stewart MacDougall. Quirky stuff at times, but like the vocals, you’re always hearing something new in the songs with each progressive listen.

There are a number of special moments here … the tongue-tying I Never Lost Someone I Loved As Much As I Love You, has a jazz/country feel, while Trouble On My Side is a bluesy ballad, which Sohmer delivers in a half-spoken mode. Quite effective. Also high on preferred list is The Queen Of Kentucky, an old wild west tale.

Variety in style is also the key here … Charlie Sohmer doesn’t get stuck in a creative rut for sure, as he injects a touch of Cajun in Cissy Bon, there’s a reggae feel to Blue Satin, while Who Do You Think It Was offers up some blues, with a spooky story line. There’s even a hint of bluegrass, most notably on the mid-tempo Ride Billy Ride … and Sohmer’s versatility as a songwriter goes into another phase on Old Friends, a ‘prison’ story song that has an effective echo intro.

Not a ‘hardcore country’ album by any stretch … but one that keeps you listening … and that, after all, is the objective of putting your music on disc. The album was produced by John Switzer at Audio Valley Studios in Perth, Ontario and features, in addition to Sohmer’s banjo, the session stylings of Burke Carroll on dobro and steel, Steve Briggs on guitar and mandolin, and Keith Glass (of Prairie Oyster) on guitars. - Country Music News


Charlie Sohmer’s music is quirky, thoughtful, and warm-hearted or, as Charlie’s web site puts it, “Honest and touching.” In other words, quintessential Canadian folk music (albeit with plenty of country, gospel, Cajun, and bluegrass influences). Sohmer sings and plays banjo and is supported by his Jazzed Up Hoodlums (players from Toronto’s The Brothers Cosmoline and The Bebop Cowboys). And while the whole album is rock solid, personally I’m drawn to the stripped-down, darker pieces, Take My Possessions and Who Do You Think It Was being two standouts. But there’s also the Cajun-flavoured Cissy Bon, the nostalgic Blue Satin (which to my ear evokes Jimmy Buffet), and country swing on Lean In A Little Closer. None of it will rock your world, perhaps, but there’s something very appealing and more than a little refreshing about Sohmer's plain spun creations.

Richard Thornley, Penguin Eggs, Autumn 2006 - Richard Thornley


Discography

Independent Albums

1990 - Some Shadows Lead You On
1992 - Spirit Jewels
1996 - Casual Rake
2000 - The Kiss Before The Calm
2006 - Dying To Have A Good Time

Photos

Bio

I started writing songs when I was 20. That's thirty nineyears ago, and I haven’t stopped yet. There must be over 400 by now, but I get paid even less for counting them, than I do for writing them, so I don’t bother counting them anymore. Except for the latest one - I always count that one.

One of my songs won the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals' 2007 Songs From The Heart Competition. Being the only thing I've ever won in my life ( besides the heart of my darling wife ), this has caused me to moderate somewhat, my long-held, low regard for these kinds of contests. I now think they are pretty cool.

I’ve recorded 6 albums, but only released 5 of them, cause I didn’t like the mixes on the second one.

I’ve performed a lot across Canada, in clubs and concert halls and festivals. I was a Songwriting Finalist at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and SolarFest, and I like recording, but mostly, I love playing for live audiences – that’s where the magic is, and I‘m a big sucker for magic.

I played guitar exclusively (have this sweet ’64 Gibson Hummingbird) until about 10 years ago, when for some mysterious reason, I fell in love with the banjo, and ever since, that’s almost all I play. I think it’s because of the droning 5th string (I call it the ‘doink’ string), that gives the song a bit of a hiccup, or backbeat propulsion … sometimes I miss the near orchestral resonance of the guitar’s six strings … but only sometimes. Mostly I love how playing the banjo makes me feel great.

I guess this where I should tell you about all the famous musicians who have ‘closed’ shows for me, over the years. Or maybe talk about all the other musical hats I’ve worn (club owner, concert/festival promoter, artist manager, radio show host, tax accountant). But I like it best when the music speaks for itself.

Here is my contact information:

Glowing Hearts Music
Tel: (613) 521-6446
Email: csohmer@gmail.com
Url: www.myspace.com/charliesohmer