Sound & Vision with Charlotte Cornfield

Toronto, ON-based artist Charlotte Cornfield releases her new record, Highs in the Minuses, later this month via Polyvinyl/Double Double Whammy (the labels’ first-ever co-release.) Continuing the interpersonal relatability that has been prevalent throughout her career to date, the new record embraces an inclusivity of spirit and features contributions from bassist Alexandra Levy (Ada Lea) and drummer Liam O’Neill (Suuns).

Deeply piercing balladry wrestles with an infectious indie pop exuberance throughout the album as Cornfield’s candid and direct delivery throws a blanket over the listener, providing a comforting reassurance that life is a mess for all of us at times, and we all make mistakes, but that is the root of being human. 

Here we get a glimpse of the art that inspired the artist as Cornfield shares her Sound and Vision choices.

Three favourite albums: 

Elyse Weinberg – Greasepaint Smile

This is a 1969 record that went completely unreleased until 2015, which is when I first got my ears on it. I can’t remember where I first heard it, but it was the song Houses that pulled me in. It’s just such a fantastic song. The lyrics gutted me: ‘I could never make it in your house / you could never make it in mine.’ It so speaks to that heartbreaking relationship thing where two people realize that they just don’t work in one another’s lives. There are so many other great songs on the album. Another favourite is It’s Alright to Linger, which starts with the line, ‘It’s the fact that you’re leaving and wasting my time.’ Such a weird and bold and great way to start a song.

Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um

My dad gave me this album when I started getting into jazz in high school. Some of the be-bop stuff I was checking out wasn’t really resonating with me, and it just felt like cramming a lot of notes into a small space. Mingus was such an emotional composer and he packed so much feeling into his music. This record just stands totally apart from a lot of the jazz of that era. It’s more through-composed and classical sounding. And it’s got so much range, from Better Get Hit In Your Soul to Goodbye Pork Pie Hat to Fables of Faubus. Incredible musicianship, and I love how the band builds to these frenzies in certain moments. I love it all.

Carole King – Tapestry

Talk about mastery of the form. This is one of my mom’s favourite records and I remember listening to it as a kid, but it was really when I got into songwriting that I fully embraced the power of these songs. Every track is a slam dunk. She can just take a lyric and a melody and make it soar. The bridge alone on You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman) is so huge. So Far Away is another one of my favourite songs. ‘Doesn’t anyone stay in one place anymore?’ I mean come on, that line. And the chorus on It’s Too Late. Wow.

Favourite film: 

High Fidelity 

Whether or not it has stood the test of time is another question, but this is a film that I keep coming back to, even when my patience for John Cusack monologues is wearing thin. There are so many precious moments in it that bring me joy. My friend Ana and I have entire conversations made up of High Fidelity quotes whenever we see each other. I feel like I’ve met all of the characters in real life at some point. As a lifelong music nerd the whole thing is just very relatable, and it just makes me love record stores more. It’s also got my favourite soundtrack ever. The soundtrack alone changed my life.

Favourite book: 

David Chariandy – Brother 

This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in recent memory. It’s a portrait of a relationship between two brothers growing up in Scarborough, Ontario. It’s tragic and moving and the imagery is vivid and it’s just so well written. I was hooked from cover to cover.

A song that means a lot to you: 

Joni Mitchell – Hejira 

There is so much profound shit in this song, right from the get go. She sets it up with, ‘I’m travelling in some vehicle / I’m sitting in some café,’ and then you’re hooked. It’s like a whole film unfolding in a song. Some of my favourite lines ever are in here: ‘Snow gathers like bolts of lace / waltzing on a ballroom girl.’ Every verse is like an episode. I keep coming back to it and finding new meaning. It’s a soul laid bare, everything I strive for in songwriting summed up in seven minutes.

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