Charley Orlando Writes a Simple and Honest “Note to Self”

My extended family have tried to sell me on Bob Dylan’s music for years.  Although it took them all my life, I’ve come to appreciate Dylan’s influence. The Folk and Americana genres have certainly grown on me.  And I’m not the only one. Many folks listen to and play folk music. Need another example? Look no further than Charley Orlando — who is prepared to launch a new album, called Note to Self.

charley orlando Note to Self
Photo by Ian LaRochelle

The new/old wave of Folk Music

It seems like just a few years ago, only independent artists exposed themselves as folk lyrics require. But recently, Top 40 artists such as Post Malone and Taylor Swift have both released charting records with folk backbone. As such, folk music has a lot of new listeners from the Millennial and Zoomer generations.

Looking at the music industry in terms of trends like this, Orlando could not have picked a better moment to release his new songs.

Who is Charley Orlando?

Orlando’s career spans 30 years with jam band Dexter Grove on his resume. But instead of a group with multiple instruments, Note to Self contains acoustic guitar and raw vocals almost exclusively.

But this doesn’t make the project any less ambitious. Note appears with visual aid with Orlando performing each song at various locations. And Orlando is an ambitious person with a cult following. Note holds a spot in a lineup of over fifteen releases, and it’s of course hard to say where this one falls. But it doesn’t matter. The album is accessible to those hearing Orlando for the first time.

Starting From the Bottom…

Like many of Dylan’s songs, you can pretty much start anywhere and you’ll eventually hear the right track. Both Orlando and Dylan’s lyrics make me think, “yeah, that is a good idea. He’s totally right.”

They say, “Less is more.”

The thing that draws me to this album is that unlike many albums of this year, Charley relies on few, if any, sound effects or ProTools plugins. While I do emphatically enjoy a good polished sugar pop album — such as the aforementioned Swift or Post — there is something wonderfully real about an acoustic guitar and a voice coming from a backyard or by a lake.

And it is real. Orlando convinces the listener of his true emotions in this effort while making larger statements about the world in 2020.  Orlando leaves a positive impression while also asking relevant questions.

Another thing I find so accessible about this album is that — especially due to the visual element — Charley seems like a person that you could have a jam session with on your back porch, not the impossibly busy celebrity persona that surrounds many musicians.  It is likely for this reason that Orlando has built himself a steady listener base without the aid of major labels or big advertisement.

That realness on Note to Self the exact same thing I enjoy so much about the Bob Dylan songs I’ve heard so far. And I don’t have to say much more about it, because good art sells itself.

Note to Self is available October 30th 2020 on all major streaming services.

Key tracks: Note to Self, Torch, All It Can Be

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