Charissa lays it all on the table, scars and all. Through earthy Americana and laidback soul, the Burlington, Ontario, based songwriter gets real about heartbreak, true love, pain, and ecstasy, with lyrics that testify to well-earned wisdom far beyond her years. That vulnerability, combined with Charissa’s lush, flowing arrangements, makes her emotional debut EP, Love and Be Loved, a deeply affecting introduction to one of the most spellbinding new voices in roots music.  

At heart, Charissa is a storyteller, and the best stories are ones that don’t shy from honesty. “With this record, I decided that I’m going to write what I might be afraid to say out loud,” she says. “I think that’s important as an artist, you know? Sharing your truth.” Love and Be Loved opens with a clear-eyed testament to that. On the uplifting single, “Scars and All,” Charissa runs through past compromises and brokenhearted memories, finding the courage to demand unconditional acceptance from a would-be lover. The bittersweet and impassioned “Can’t Have You” details the pain of loving someone who isn’t good for you, but the gentle “Starlit Sky” brings the balm. “Things don’t end ‘cause they’re good,” she sings. “They end ‘cause they should.”   

Charissa has been honing this thoughtful, meditative approach to songwriting since she was a kid. Music was a constant in her home, with her mom’s favorites on heavy rotation—artists like Queen, Allison Krauss, Whitney Houston, Stevie Nicks, and Blue Rodeo, whose guitarist Colin Cripps actually produced Love and Be Loved. Singing along to those songs before she’d hit double digits inspired her parents to put her into vocal lessons, and by 12, she’d dusted off the acoustic guitar in her grandpa’s basement and was learning to play. Since then, she’s been refining the careful, open songwriting that would bring her to Love and Be Loved.  

Each track reveals a new depth to the truth Charissa offers. On “The Last Time”—co-written with fellow Cripps and Canadian songsmith Jessica Mitchell—she hits a sweet country groove as romantic sentiments conjure good vibes. The weighty title track proves to be the record’s most powerful moment, as Charissa’s soulful voice rises alongside resonant piano, celebrating the magic of time spent with your person. By the end of the sparse, acoustic number “People Like You”—a quiet song of support for the folks doing good out there—listeners will be left with a deep sense that even when times are rough, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and likely someone waiting there to help you out of the dark. 

“When I was writing over the past year or two, it was a really dark time, and I feel like with these songs I found a light,”Charissa says. “I hope that they give people a hopeful feeling, too.” 

 Love and Be Loved was recorded live in the large chapel at Coalition Music in Toronto, with the seasoned Cripps at the production helm and an impressive list of collaborators that includes the aforementioned Mitchell, Tom Wilson, Jesse O’Brien, and Carrie DeMaeyer. By marrying her most beloved influences—the natural poignancy of Patty Griffin’s lyricism and Stevie Nicks’ heavy romanticism—with unflinching, intimate storytelling, Charissa has found a sound that suits her authentic, reflective songs. Finally, she can bare her whole soul. 




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