Charlie Puth’s 2016 debut album Nine Track Mind might have been hugely successful, but according to the 27-year-old singer- songwriter, that wasn’t the REAL Charlie Puth which we heard on hits like Marvin Gaye and One Call Away.
“That album left a sour taste in my mouth because I wasn’t feeling any of the feelings I was singing about. It was just people forcing me to sing about things I didn’t want to sing about, which is so stereotypical of every record label!” he lamented.
However, Puth said he was fortunate that Nine Track Mind was successful enough that he was able to make his latest album, Voicenotes, on his own.
True enough, the album takes a different direction from his debut, and one of the reasons is because he was involved in every step of the process, from writing and arranging to producing all the songs on the album.
“I was really happy that I got to make this one entirely by myself, because I didn’t really have too much of a say during the creation of the first one,” he explained during an interview held before his concert in Shah Alam last month.
“At times it was a little stressful, because I didn’t have anyone to fall back on when it came to finishing a song. But at least I got to do it exactly the way I wanted to do it.”
Released in May this year, Voicenotes has already outpaced its predecessor not only in terms of sales and chart success (it peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Top 100 chart; Nine Track Mind only made it to No. 6), but also in terms of critical acclaim. (Read our review here.)
The album has produced hits like Attention and How Long, and is also nominated for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical at the upcoming Grammy Awards.
One of the reasons Nine Track Mind was successful was because of its love ballads, which also led Puth to declare that he wasn’t going to have any love ballads on Voicenotes
He did include a couple in the end though – after all, you can’t have Boyz II Men (who features on If You Leave Me Now) on a record and not have a love ballad!
“Exactly! I love that song. It’s incredibly hard to sing, but I love the melodic structure of that song. There’s like 400 vocal takes on that song too. It’s a very vocally dense song,” Puth said.
“There’s nothing wrong with love ballads … I guess at the time I thought I could get away with (not having any of ) it!”
He also said that he’s already “working on little bits” of his next album.
“I don’t know what it’s going to sound like, but I’m always trying to top myself,” he said.
“Even after Voicenotes was done, I’m thinking, ‘What can I do to sound different?’. It’s like how John Mayer didn’t make Continuum again – he went on to make something completely different. I’m just following that model.
“Later, I would love to make a country album – just spend a month in Nashville and make a record that combines my stylistic music with puristic country.”
One thing that’s never going to change is his approach to song writing though.
“It feels weird if people wrote lyrics for me, which is why the first album left such a sour taste in my mouth,” Puth said.
“My music is people music. It’s got phrases that people say in everyday life, with a melody attached to that. So, I’m just living through life everyday, add a little chord change, a beat and melody, and that’s a song!”