Clara Mann makes soft “almost folk music” to make herself feel calm in a busy world. Now based in Bristol, Clara grew up in a small village in the South of France, and grew up with classical music always around her, from choral pieces to chamber music. She is a classically trained musician, playing piano and voice, with classical music playing a great part of her identity as a folk musician. She writes lo-fi songs to be played in the evening. She is one of the most exciting, original and engaging artists producing music right now. Her debut EP, Consolations, will be out soon on the wonderful english label Sad Club Records.
What She Says:
I’m Clara, I’m an indie-folk musician based in Bristol, and am about to release my debut EP “Consolations” with Sad Club Records. The EP is a collection of songs written over the last year or so, so-called because I wrote them to “console” myself, to find comfort when things were turbulent or when I felt somehow disconnected from world around me.
My music emerged from a world of books, paintings, and poetry, as well as a love of song, and for me, it is a weaving together of those loose strands, an assembling and mending of the fragments of the things I love, that might otherwise have remained scattered across my life and never quite have come together.
Mary Margaret O’Hara – Never Not
I discovered Mary Margaret O’Hara’s album “Miss America” about a year ago, and loved it, but I came back to her over lockdown after watching the film “Museum Hours’, an art-house piece about a woman in her fifties (O’Hara) befriending a museum guide in Vienna. There’s a scene where O’Hara, in the stillness of her tiny hotel room, sings this to herself, half humming, half muttering- it feels like we’re being let in on a secret.
The only thing I could compare her voice to is birdsong, it has the same energy and resonance as the dawn chorus. She’s magical, and, in this strange and empty time, her music has felt like a gift.
The Velvet Undergound – After Hours
I don’t listen to a lot of the Velvet Underground, because I find Lou Reed’s voice a bit wearing after a while, but this is a one-off sung by Mo Tucker, his drummer. I’ve been listening to it for years, it’s just so sweet and pure.
My favourite line is “Someday I know someone’ll look into my eyes, and say “hello, you’re my very special one”.”- if the person I marry doesn’t say this to me on my wedding day, I’m filing for divorce.
Jean Sablon – Rendez-vous sous la pluie
I listen to quite a lot of 50s/60s French music, and this song just reminds me of being a child there, and of walking home on grey winter evenings. It’s about a man who gets stood up by his date, and ends up waiting around in the rain for her- it’s funny, and sweet, and sad, and the recordings are all nice and fuzzy. This is a real gem.
Gia Margaret – Solid Heart
Gia Margaret released this on Spotify this recently and unexpectedly, after its success on Bandcamp. I love everything she does, but I’ve had this on repeat. Her music is so intimate, and there’s something fragile about her voice and the vocal arrangements. The line “Do we want to talk about/ the year we did without” haunts me – so otherworldly.
Judee Sill – Jesus was a crossmaker
Judee Sill was around at the same time as Joni Mitchell and Carole King, and was, in my opinion, just as brilliant but she never quite made it to their level of fame. She had a sad and complicated life, was mixed up both in Catholicism and hard drugs (both equally disorientating presences in her life, it seems), and lacked the patience to schmooze or pander to people, as one sometimes has to to make it big in that world. This song, like a lot of her music, hovers between exposing and concealing the pain she carried with her for so much of her life, as she falls for someone who can’t quite love her back. Veiled in mysticism and metaphor, mostly religious, every line is full of feeling, and I think it’s completely extraordinary. I remember times driving home late at night and absolutely screaming this, with the windows rolled down- it means so much to me.
Caroline Polachek – So Hot You’re Hurting my Feelings
Finishing this on something a bit more upbeat – this is a bit of an odd one out, for this list and for me generally. I don’t listen to a lot of pop music normally, but I’ve been going through a real phase recently, and I honestly know every single word to this song. Caroline Polachek is my celebrity crush – I tell everyone about her, I’m completely obsessed. Notice me, please Caroline.
“Consolations“will be out on February 24th on Sad Club Records. Look HERE for more information on Clara Mann.