Even after 17 years in the music business, Carla J Easton somehow manages to retain her sense of shimmering wonder in the face of adversity. For all that SUGAR HONEY is the artist’s most mature offering to date, facing up to the sad cycle of life, faltering romances and the grim reality that walking home is no stroll in the park, the defiant hands in the air attitude to life is still present.
Which is great, as it’s what she does best. Tales of stolen kisses, double denim and simply believing in love will never go out of fashion in pop music, and Easton delivers these convictions earnestly. Even better, this time, she’s mob handed.
The kids choir on ‘Blooming 4U’ is as joyous, raucous and life-affirming as you’d expect from a bunch of Glasgow South-Side weans being egged on to make as much noise as possible. It’s not as though Easton’s passing on the baton just yet, but on record and off, she’s about making the party bigger and stronger, bringing more people into the game.
And yet, at the other end of the spectrum, amidst the darker side of human nature, Carla ruminates on watching fragility in previously strong loved ones. It’s tastefully done, and as deserving of a song as any other topic.
It feels like an album that on one listen will take you one way, but on the next, another. A Global Hypercolor record wrapped around your body, switching colour and style based on your mood at the time.
With Easton at the production desk, it would be easy to suggest this is her true sound, the 80s infused style bouncing throughout, but that’s unlikely to be the case, more just what she was into that month.
As an example, ‘One Week’ could easily have been the slow pop jam single from any 80s US pop starlet, especially when that sax solo kicks in. However, you’d be here longer than a fortnight digging out the influences and inspirations on the album, so you’re better off using your time to enjoy the music in the here and now.
Amidst a barrage of affirmations, the line ‘Girl, you’ve had this all along’ stands out and rings true. Whether Carla is reminding herself or raising others around her, she’s right, and remains an artist who dances to her own beat and synth fills.