A little help from her friends

Having made aliya, Jen Charlton now plans to make an album – with her fans’ support.

Jen Charlton  (photo credit: Courtesy)
Jen Charlton
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Adark, smoky club in Tel Aviv is an incongruous place to hear songs that sound as fresh and clear as a Canadian stream, but that’s just one of the many unexpected paradoxes that Jen Charlton brings to her music.
The native of rural Ontario has more than a little in common with her countrymen with folkie origins like Joni Mitchell and Neil Young thanks to her rich husky voice, intelligent lyrics and sparkling piano playing, but neither of those eventual superstars ever left behind promising music careers to make aliya.
Charlton took her rather unorthodox path in 2009 after spending many years in England, where she became part of London’s vibrant music scene, recording album and EP and notching up some impressive collaborations with noted studio pros like Howard Gott, who has worked with Beth Orton and Ray Lamontagne .
“I had a brush with EMI in England and came close to a publishing deal, but it didn’t come through – typical music business stuff. I decided it was time to do something new and see where it goes,” said Charlton this week from her new home in Tel Aviv. “I had been thinking about moving to Israel for a while; I was really curious about Israeli society.”
Charlton has not been disappointed as she’s delved into the layers of the local cultural strata, and even though she was aware that her musical aspirations might be more difficult to realize being so remote, she’s been on a roll in writing, recording and performing her own material.
“Music keeps going with me wherever I go. If my only goal was to be a singer/songwriter, I guess I should be living in Austin or Nashville. But I wanted a new experience in life, and if anything, being in Israel has inspired me professionally,” she said. “I’m really impressed by how much is going on musically in such a small country.”
Hoping to make her own mark on the scene, Charlton is not only starting to perform in clubs – like Saturday night (February 19) at the Bar Giora club in Tel Aviv – but she’s also recording an album on her own and asking fans to help finance it.
“I had made some records in the past and got independent distribution deals that sold them on CD Baby and iTunes, but I think somewhere I got tired of the industry and wanted to do something on my own,” said Charlton. “I had a friend who financed her documentary film using a funding campaign on a web site called Indiegogo, so I decided to give it a go. All kinds of charities, artists and musicians use it to help fund their projects.”
Charlton has raised approximately 15 percent of the $5,000 she hopes to compile to complete the album of original material she’s recording with her partner, bassist Yves Galula, a new immigrant from France.
“We still have a long way to go,” Charlton admitted, adding that much of the recording is already taking place in a home studio for no cost and that the Indiegogo funds are required for the final vocal takes, piano parts and mixing. “Even if I don’t raise the money, I’ll keep going.”
If you want to see some sincere Canadian sunshine brighten up the gritty Tel Aviv landscape, you can join Charlton’s CD project at http://www.indiegogo.com/Album- Fever
February 19 at the Bar Giora club, 4 Bar Giora St., Tel Aviv