While it’s nice to look forward to something hoving into view (and there is hoving aplenty going on this week and next, now that release schedules click back into gear post-Christmas. Although it’s a shame that HMV aren’t honouring any of the gift vouchers that loads of people received under their various trees), it’s just as fun to be treated to something that I wasn’t expecting from someone whose very existence had previously eluded me. This is something that falls rather firmly into the latter category as I dived into this in a state of complete unknowing (an artist previously Toronto and possibly now Montreal or maybe even the other way around, and this is something that came out last summer is as much background info I could snuffle out), which is generally something I do rather a lot here and to be honest something I rather enjoy if I’m being perfectly honest.
Clara Engels’ EP is a curious thing as it’s something that seems to grow as it goes along, not just in the way that each subsequent track is longer than its predecessor, but she also becomes bolder as the record goes along. Beginning with the imploring Not Knowing, the accompaniment is sparse and the narrator sounds lost in her lonely story. Song To The Sea Witch (Disembody My Voice) turns this forlorn mood into something angrier whilst still retaining that impassioned sense of loss, her guitar accompaniment biting harder and joined by rising percussion.
One thing that does strike throughout the whole performance (and I do like the “doom pop” self-description) is the calm authority that Clara puts into her voice. Whichever emotion her four songs here require, she delivers with empathy and a strength to suggest whatever ails her characters, there’s something in there that will see them home.
There is a deliciously weird streak as well, hinted at deliciously by Ebrahel Lurci’s beautiful and disturbing cover art. Married To The Bone has the domestic horror of what seems to these ears as Mark Lanegan’s Wedding Dress filtered through Lynch’s Blue Velvet, with a second half that is as unhinged as it is compelling. Lovebirds completes the set, coming across all Angelo Badalamenti while the lyrics take a turn for the surreal, making for a pleasantly confusing denouement as the listener’s concentration flits between the gently-layered music and the apocalyptic nursery rhyme lyrics.
Certainly something to be checking out and following, and by simply clicking on this here link (note to self: make links in this theme more obvious sometime this week) you can do just that. And if throwing money at computer screens in order to nurture talent and supporting artists is your thing, then you can do that too; Clara is busy working on a new Long Playing Record with about 66% of it paid for, this EP should hopefully turn a few hearts and empty a few bank accounts to help out with that last third – have a gander at this page and spare a few coppers.