One of the great delights for anyone music lover is hearing an artist for the first time and getting to experience the ‘perfect moment’ where everything extraneous to the music drops away and you become suspended in time; a blissful stasis where there is only you and the music. Life can be like fighting through a dense forest, no sense of direction and with branches pushing back against you, but every now and again you step into a clearing that’s bathed in sunlight and feel compelled to stop and soak up as much peace and sunlight as you can for your journey back into the trees. That’s how I felt when I heard Clara Mann’s ‘Didn’t Know You Were Leaving Today’ for the first time.
On Consolations we have four songs that are so well recorded you could be in the room listening to them, and there is an intimacy in their delivery that feels like you have been lucky enough to experience a beautiful and unvarnished soul. There is a truth to Clara Mann’s songs that is not explicit but mixes allusion with the honesty, and the slight tremble in her delivery demonstrates force of character rather than any fragility. These are the kinds of songs that an artist usually writes at the end of their career when have the heft of experience behind them; experience that adds a weight to songs that youth does not normally bestow.
I am confident that Clara Mann has an extraordinary career ahead and her popularity will be not only be from the listening public but also in the praise I’m sure she will get from her fellow artists. Whatever the future holds, Clara Mann is already as near perfect as an artist can be and I am thankful for the clearing in the forest her music brought me to.
Clara was kind enough to talk Joyzine through Consolations track by track:
Waiting for the Flight
The first track! It’s here because this song is the sunniest of the 4, even though it might not sound it from the context I’m about to give. It is, in its own way, quietly joyful.
It’s about the beginning of a relationship last winter. I realised how strongly I felt about this person, and simultaneously became aware of the fragility of it all, and how easily things could fall apart if we were careless with each other, or didn’t take these feelings as seriously as they deserved. I felt that they were scared I would slip through their fingers, or melt away with the spring.
The phrase “Waiting for The Flight” comes from one specific image, that I transposed and made a metaphor of: when I drive between my family’s home and Bristol, a trip I do quite often, I go past Bristol airport, and in the lay-bys I always see parked cars, with their passengers leaning against the doors, watching the flights coming in and out. Each person I passed, I wondered who they were thinking of, and which one that person was doing, arriving or leaving. It came to represent the way in which I felt we were both waiting for the other to up and leave, or to commit, or waiting for clarity of some kind- and in the end, we were wasting our precious time together worrying about that, rather than enjoying every moment.
I wrote this over a summer where I was totally adrift- it was quite a lonely time, and I felt that, in a bid for some kind of connection, I was making myself vulnerable to the wrong people. Thoughtless is a recognition of that unhealthy tendency in myself, as well as being about the way people can take too much of someone, without even realising.
This is the oldest song on the EP, written in the late summer of 2019, and it’s the one that I feel sets the mood for the collection as a whole- everything else came from my discovery that this feeling, this longing to be understood, was the thread that would run through my writing for a long time to come.
I wrote this in the autumn of 2019 after recently moving to the city- looking back, it feels a little like a coming of age song, or the closest thing I’ve ever written to one. It’s about the pain of leaving behind a simpler life, and the uncomplicated relationships that punctuated it, but also about the thrill of the city, and parties, and of discovery. I had grown apart from a childhood friend, through no fault of theirs or mine- we just grew, and changed, and realised that some things aren’t meant to last. Station Song is me acknowledging that process, but also my own unwillingness to let go of something that had brought so much joy, even when it became unrecognisable.
I Didn’t Know You Were Leaving Today
I wrote this about feeling trapped in a place so beautiful, it felt wrong to be sad there. I was lonely and a bit lost, and felt like I was going mad in this lovely house- I kept falling asleep with the lights on, losing things, forgetting things… The person I wanted to be there couldn’t be, and I felt myself having to remember how to be alone in that space, not having been for a long time. This is a sad song with a peaceful resolution- I wanted to offer someone else the comfort I couldn’t find for myself, and in the end, it reached me too.
I think this is my favourite song on the EP, perhaps also because it’s the most recent one, and so I still feel very close to the person I was when I wrote this (which, for instance, I don’t with Station Song). It also has one of the strangest lines I’ve ever written in it, but one of my favourites: “I’ll be the bag in your arms.” I’m not going to explain quite why, maybe I hardly know myself- but I hope other people like it too.
Review by Paul F Cook