In the era we live in, where life runs at a breakneck pace and clout can make one complacent, starting something fresh can be tough, especially when one has built a strong base through a proven formula.
In the last year, however, many have been presented with the opportunity to break that cycle.
About a month and a half into the pandemic, Terrence Richard, frontman of the hugely popular Charlotte alt-rock outfit Junior Astronomers, began to branch out, and over the next year went on to develop an entirely new sound with his solo project, performing as Alan Charmer.
The differences between Junior Astronomers and Alan Charmer are day and night. Where the band blows audiences out with their anthems, throwing them into a frenzy on the dance floor or in the pit, Alan Charmer pulsates an emotional energy that draws listeners in for a more minimalistic atmosphere.
“For me, it’s one of those things that I wanted to make something more accessible, but at the same time have it be just me,” Richard tells Queen City Nerve.
For him, breaking out into the solo world was about expressing himself more as an individual, wearing his emotions on his sleeve even more so than he already had with Astronomers.
“With some music, you don’t want to write something super personal and then have three other dudes have to play a song about it,” he explains. “For instance, one of my songs [“Call U Soon”] is about my mom worrying about a police officer killing me. I don’t want them to have to play that because it might not be their viewpoint, or it might not be what they believe. I mean, they obviously care about that, but in this way I can just say what I want, and that’s one of the best parts.”
Alan Charmer has dropped three singles thus far: “Squeeze” in February, “Lost/Control” in March, and “Call U Soon” in May. He plans to drop an EP sometime in the second half of the year, with an LP to follow in 2022.
The lyrics in Alan Charmer’s first three tracks provide much of the draw, while the evocative pianos and low-fi vibe of the production creates the perfect dreamscape as a backdrop.
From May 2020 through the February release of “Lost/Control,” Richard used his time in quarantine to hone his vocals and even learned to play the piano, all while writing a small library of songs that would become the Alan Charmer library.
Alan Charmer holds space for emotion in recent releases
Of the three songs currently out, each feels similar in sound but holds something uniquely heavy on the emotional side.
“Lost/Control” speaks of the indecision, hard calls, and regrets of taking a friendship to bed, changing the dynamic in an irreversible way.
“Squeeze” recalls the memories of a past partner, and what little remains after it is all gone, even as one tries to reach across time with a midnight phone call.
The latest track, “Call U Soon,” speaks to the situation Ricard describes above, one in which the realities around us create hallowing images of possible loss — whether it be family, friend or acquaintance.
When the news can amp up the anxiety, sometimes it is too much to take.
Alan Charmer explains his perspective of growing up in the increasingly nerve-wracking atmosphere of America:
“You know you’re beautiful, please take your Tylenol, headaches from all the bad news…” he sings. “Said it’d be better if they weren’t all around you/ Said it’d be better if they weren’t always on the news.”
As with many of the lyrics he wrote for Junior Astronomers, Richards makes it easy for listeners to identify with his tales, subbing in their own individual stories to be able to relate to the music.
Alan Charmer, the solo project that combines Richard’s middle name with the nickname of a beloved cousin, speaks softly yet strongly from the heart in a way that might only be possible for him in this format.
When put side-by-side with the work audiences already know him for, the small-but-growing Alan Charmer discography adds another layer for the artist to grow into in 2021 and beyond.
Alan Charmer is scheduled to perform at Petra’s reopening celebration on August 6.