Clare And The Reasons are listed as being Chinese Traditional music on their MySpace profile, but they are not Chinese nor Traditional. What they are is a Brooklyn based band fronted by Clare Manchon who is releasing its second album, Arrow, on October 20th.
The first initial notes off of Arrow are sweet in such a way as to fool listeners into settling in for what they think may be a placid ride into musical dreamland. That doesn’t last for long. Five minutes into the album and it’s clear that the songs contain a wealth of depth underneath that candy-coated shell. I caught the first hint of this just reading the liner notes. ‘Oh wow, there are kazoos on this album,’ I said to myself. And we all know that kazoos mean business.
Lyrically, the songs on Arrow are very life affirming, such as those on the track ‘You Got Time,’ where Manchon sings, ‘you got time to turn around and make things right.’ The singer’s voice is comfortingly serene as she sings this, and brings to mind a timeless mix of Kate Bush and Bernadette Peters. I know it’s been awhile since Bernadette Peters was mentioned in a CD review, but while listening to this song I kept getting images in my head of that scene from the movie, ‘The Jerk,’ where she and Steve Martin were singing on a river bank or something.
The next special treat on this album is the band’s cover of the Genesis song, ‘That’s All.’ The song’s heart is a combination of wind instruments and politely assertive violin that sounds like a finger waving in your face.
Winding down the end of Arrow is Perdue A Paris, which is sung in French and has all the makings of a fancy date; rhythm, mystery and marching band drums. The mystery is put in there because I have no idea what they’re singing about.
All in all, Manchon’s lyrics and vocal Zen; shaking hands with the man voices added by band mates Bob Hart and Oliver Manchon, and let’s not forget the kazoo; leave you with a what more could you ask for experience.
Photo courtesy of Frog Stand Records (US)
Fargo Records (Europe)