Charity Huot

Charity Huot, Tangled Directions

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Charity Huot recently released her debut album, Tangled Directions, recorded at the Sacred Heart Studio and mixed by Eric Swanson.

Recorded live and in one day, the album is a mix of alternative folk with twists of bluegrass, jazz, and pop. It was also was a family affair.

“Everyone in my immediate family either sings or plays an instrument,” Huot said. “Recording with them was one of the best ways to spend time together. Creating music with collectively was a wonderful connection to make and share. My Dad, Mom, and Sister (Bob, Diane, and Bethany) were joined by a great family friend and a former elementary teacher to record with us. It was a wonderful learning experience.”

A Duluth native, Huot has previously worked as music teacher herself at a local school for kids from kindergarten through eighth grade. While working there she influenced and inspired many students with her choice of songs (like “Let It Be) and dedication.

“Music is my outlet, passion, poetry, and voice,” Huot said. “I want to share it with the world, but I am happy and fortunate to be able to start in my own community. I grew up in Duluth so it is a great starting point for so many things, especially music. I hope to give back what it has given to me. I feel that everyone has a story and talent that needs to be shared and a voice that needs to be heard.”

Huot has been playing locally at venues like Sir Ben’s and Pizza Luce’, which highlight many local artists. As she gains experience her sound is being honed and her talent is growing.

“At every show I perform at, even if just one person is listening, it is totally worth it,” Huot said. “I get lost when I am on stage and it is a complete moment of freedom for me. I never play a song the same and I learn something new every time I perform. That is the beauty of live music.”

The album, Tangled Directions, begins with a Christmas song titled, “Cradle Me”. A slow, soft instrumental opening flows into a nursery rhyme about, “Angels singing Noelle and hopeful people travel afar all to watch over the little baby.” Quiet guitar riffs are complimented by melodious strings and a soothing voice.

“Secret of Truth” comes next and is a song with spiritual undertones and melodic guitar. About finding truth, Huot asks the listener to look around them.

“That song is open for people to look at through their own experiences,” Huot said. “They can ask themselves what is truth and where do you find it? The “Secret of Truth” is saying to just open your eyes, it is everywhere.”

Upbeat compared to other songs on the CD, “Smile” shines in next and talks about living a simpler life. Huot talks about people who live in other countries that are less fortunate than we are. She looks at them suffering and wishes they could appreciate being alive and smile. Midway through a mandolin softly bridges her simple style with a more folky feel.

“I carry around a little journal with me to jot down things I see, hear, feel, and capture, because you never know when you will be inspired enough to write something down,” Huot said. “I have also never written one song the same, they have all been written differently. Sometimes lyrics just come to me, while sometimes I need to read or watch something to be inspired. Sometimes I get a melody in my head and words come months later, while other times I find a lick on the guitar that I like and put a poem to it from another time. Every song has a different story, feel, meaning and experience behind it.”

“These Summer Days” swing in next with a faster tempo about our favorite and shortest time of the year in the Northland, the summer. You can almost sense Huot smiling whiles singing about feeling free.

“These summer days are far and few between, watching clouds walking round the lake not far from me… Dancing barefoot to my favorite song pretending nothing’s wrong,” Huot sings. A banjo and/or mandolin rings in the background, reminding locals of our rich folk styled sound that emanates from the shores of Gitche Gumee to the arches of Sacred Heart.

Darker and almost in the key of “Hotel California”, “Save” is about spirituality, faith, praying, and being saved. A nice song that Huot gently sings and plays acoustic guitar on, the rhythm in the opening and harmonic overlapping of voices ring in about praying to be saved.

“Slow Down” follows and shows another aspect Huot’s softer side as well, but this time caring more about mother Earth.

“I based “Saved” on my experience living in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and “Slow Down” on embracing our Mother Earth. We need to remember that she is our mother and blesses us with so many abundances that we often take advantage of... So slow down and enjoy her.”

As the CD progresses it begins to grow on you. The next catchy tune, Tangled Direction, is about a private place where Huot relaxes. We are invited to look through her eyes and given a glimpse of what she sees in the world around her. A slower way of life, this song is highlighted by a slide guitar and wider range of instruments. This piece reminds us of how any moment in a day can capture the essence of who we are. The mandolin solo in the middle bridges everything together and compliments a country slide. There is no real genre to this song, just instruments layering down background music, and making the listener focus on Huot's moment.

My favorite song of the album was “The Loon Song”. It danced, was folky, and stands out with great harmonies. Huot sings about a Minnesota Loon passing her by and then reflects on the bird’s travels. This is a simple, special song, which shows another moment of Huot’s life.

Even though she sings about rock on “With You”, it keeps with her minimalist approach to her songwriting. Two guitars and her voice are what characterize this song and it’s the canvas that she writes on. A love song, “With You” talks about taking a chance and rocking with someone each day through.

“That was written about my partner Joe,” Huot said. “He is amazing and balances me”

So what are Huot’s plans for the CD and what is coming up?

“I hope that it brings peace to people and allows me to record again and eventually start a music scholarship for our town. I would love it to spread like wild fire and my voice and messages to be heard. On Thursday we have the Ladies We Love event at the Teatro Zuccone, Saturday I play Thirsty Pagan Brewery from 6-9 followed by Pizza Luce’s Brunch February 20-21, Sir Bens on February 26th, and Amazing Grace on February 27th. Check my music Facebook page and/or and itunes to purchase the CD.”