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Clare Louise - Balloons CD (album) cover


Clare Louise


Prog Folk

2.95 | 2 ratings

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3 stars If the rhythms and accompaniment of "Balloons" occasionally steer CLARE LOUISE towards alt rock more than on her debut, and even her enunciation approaches the conventional, she appears to have found a middle ground between pop conformity and folk subversity. As before, her strength is in steering memorable, accessible melodies into less familiar patterns, and doing so with an eternally fragile voice that sounds like she couldn't swallow all the water she needed to grease her gears. Kind of like a Euro folk-prog half sister to IRIS DEMENT, and almost as backwoodsy.

Two similarly titled songs are both highlights: the organ suffused dirge of "I Don't Know this Place", and the more singer songwriter inspired "I Don't Sleep Anymore", into which deliberate electric chords are planted. leaving faintly martial percussion in the shade. The sweet ballad "You'll Alway be my Love" sounds like it is built upon ukelele or at least mandolin, but again as it builds the keyboards and more constant drumming affirm the bolder style.

Unfortunately, tracks like "Both Moods" and "Somewhere Else" could be by almost anyone, and even some vaguely evocative horns and strings don't fully salvage the dreary "Where I come From". Luckily there is "Impossible Road" rising like a sunflower on the back 40, thanks partly to Louise's homage to her voice coach towards the end, and "Sweet Blue" welcomes 1960s pop in an authentic manner. We are still treated to sumptuous string arrangements that recall those by Robert Kirby via NICK DRAKE and even some later BLONDEL.

The irresistible flow of Louise's debut is missing here but I still found a lot to like. Sophomore jinx? Or the initial blown kisses of a slow deflation? Stay tuned.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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