I didn’t expect to be quite so moved by Clare Bowen’s self-titled debut album, but I’ve been sitting here blubbing like a baby.
It’s not even as if there’s anything that is particularly sad about the album: but there’s a lot of shared experiences in her songs, even discounting track two, ‘Doors & Corridors’, which even namechecks her hometown of Stanwell Park, one which is known well to me having grown up in the same district. The song is particularly poignant as she sings about how, if she could change a thing, she wouldn’t.
The entire album is a finely crafted masterpiece, and so far as debuts go, there’ll not be many to better it. The storytelling and vocals call to mind those of Dolly Parton; the aforementioned ‘Doors & Corridors’, as well as track 4, ‘Aves’ Song’, have it. Even the more “pop” style song, ‘Lullabye’, number 6 on the 11 track album, feels as though Dolly could easily make it her own. We’d love to hear a duet between Clare and Dolly, and hope that Ms Parton hears the same influences we do.
‘Sweet William’ makes us think of the folk songs I grew up learning at school – storytelling lyrics, set to a simple acoustic guitar instrumental, Clare’s voice is pure and clear as she recounts the tale of a girl whose lover has drowned at sea.
The folky sound continues with ‘Lijah & The Shadow’, albeit with a slightly rockier vibe. Bowen’s voice is such that we wish it hadn’t so long for her to release her first album – she wrote and recorded it over a period of five and a half years between filming and touring with ‘Nashville’ – but we’re grateful that it’s finally here.
Clare Bowen said in our recent interview that “the songs are stories from my life, and stories from the lives of people I love”. I suspect that’s partly why they’re so moving, because these stories are ones which many of us will also find relatable. Penultimate track, ‘Grace Of God & You’, is a love song which we challenge anyone to not cry over, while closing song, ‘Warrior’, is sweet yet sad waltz which conjures up visions of fighting battles; not necessarily wars, but battles people are fighting with their own demons. The important thing to remember is that we’re all fighting battles every day – but we have the choice to let them take over, or “turn this battle into a dance”.