Swimming Bell – ‘Charlie’ review: a sunshine-soaked album of glistening vignettes

For her second album, Katie Schottland has found a new home and new creative freedom.


The LA traffic, my lullaby“, sings Swimming Bell’s Katie Schottland on album standout, ‘Take It Easy’, taken from her second LP ‘Charlie’. Schottland relocated to California from Brooklyn during the pandemic and ‘Charlie’ is an amalgamation of tracks recorded both in Brooklyn and her Eagle Rock home, which served as something of a lockdown oasis.

In many ways, Schottland sounds like she’s come home. Echoes of Laurel Canyon are so present throughout ‘Charlie”s ten tracks, it’s impossible to imagine her living anywhere else.

On single, ‘Ash In The Jar’, she details a perfect Los Angeles summer – late nights, beer, laughter, sunshine. ‘The Carnival’ begins with Schottland’s rich vocal over a simple tambourine beat. “Everyone’s in magazines, smiling back at me – oh what a strange world it is”. It’s through explorations of place, via a series of glistening vignettes, that Schottland demonstrates her songwriting prowess – an ability to paint a picture with her words, little snapshots soaked in sunny, California hues.


On ‘Charlie’, Schottland has undoubtedly found her sound and a cohesiveness to her art. As a result, across the record’s ten tracks there’s not a vast amount of variation – tracks that are from the Brooklyn recording sessions (‘Dekalb Ave.’) demonstrate some interesting production, but at its core, this is an album of acoustic folk, beautiful melodies and songs that will conjure gorgeous images of a time gone by. Sometimes that’s all you need.

Swimming Bell – 'Charlie'
swimming-bell-charlie-album-reviewReleased 19 Jan 2024