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Albums You Should Own: Why ‘The Shape of Your Name’ Has Your Name On It

Albums you should own:

Charlotte Cornfield

The shape of your name

here's why it has your name on it.

Author: Julia Finnegan


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Music has transformative powers and some artists have the capacity to make you believe in telepathy. Whether it is the unique timbre of their voice that speaks to you, or their concise, yet, specific lyrical style, songwriters possess the intimate ability to relate to us by way of one-sided conversation. Toronto-based, balladeer Charlotte Cornfield is a seasoned conversationalist, and her lyrics paint expressive portraits. In April 2019, Cornfield released her third studio album entitled the ‘The Shape of Your Name.’ This record explores everything from the month of June, to Jack Nicholson, to the surprising anguish that can be caused by the sighting of a Silver Civic. Concise, clear and clever are the three driving principles of Cornfield’s writing. Her charm stems from her honesty, or rather, her ability to weave stories in a way that is not only believable, but realistic.


The fourth track on the record, “Andrew” exemplifies this. The gritty guitar contrasted by the softness of Cornfield’s smooth voice ventures into the realm of folk-rock. This steady, edgy ballad opens with the admirably authentic  phrase: “Andrew, I feel weird about you now.” A  succinct line that says so much in only seven words. Cornfield maintains depth while remaining to the point. She paints a vivid picture of Andrew: a moody college Casanova, whose Achilles heel is the chip on his shoulder. The song is confrontational and blunt, but also tender and sincere. The narrator is perceptive and seems to be equally aware of Andrew’s flaws as she is of his charisma. Cornfield seamlessly walks the line between vagueness and specificity. She lends enough explicit detail to set a scene that listeners can latch onto but simultaneously remains ambiguous enough for the listener to attach their own meanings.

 'Silver Civic’ succeeds ‘Andrew’ on the track listing. Similar to the fourth track, track five is a slow burn, but in a different way. There is history here, and the situation is less dire and more delicate. Where ‘Andrew’ is sonically folk-rock based, ‘Silver Civic’ is a classic singer-songwriter  ballad. This track expertly examines the ordinary and demonstrates how mundane things can remind us of our past at unexpected and, often, inconvenient times. Structurally, it feels like a stream of consciousness piece because the vocal delivery is so organic. The music behind it provides a gentle cushion for the vocal to move across. ‘Silver Civic’ is a song for anyone who has experienced loss of any kind; particularly those who are grieving the living. It is the love song version of that old driving exercise intended to promote alertness behind the wheel; where you look for red cars on the road and suddenly, all you see is red. Similarly, this song is a lesson in awareness and is guaranteed to have you spotting all of the silver Civics around town.

 The first track on the record, entitled “June,”  has a sort of mantra/dreamlike quality. The piano acts as a second voice to Cornfield and tenderly responds to each phrase she sings. It is a yearning song of solitude about missing someone you know is not good for you. It navigates personal growth and empty promises. June acts as a prologue for what is to follow both lyrically and musically. The only point of the song that varies in melody is the outro/bridge hybrid which is also the source of the album’s title. The mood changes entirely, the melody ascends, even Cornfield’s delivery changes. It is the most vulnerable part of the song. She transitions to a falsetto tone for this part and this part only: “Don’t know if it’s you or just the shape of your name on my page that gets me every time.” The song ends abruptly; there is no resolve, no happy ending, however, it is all unassumingly calculated. Cornfield leaves listeners on pins and needles.      

Music has transportative powers. Now, more than ever, we are chasing escape from reality and searching for human connection. This record will provide you that kind of release. It is the companion you never knew you needed. It is the type of friend that will make you laugh, accept you for all of your insecurities and urge you to look at the world honestly. It is for these reasons and so many others that ‘The Shape of Your Name’ is an album you should own.

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