Clara Mann’s EP Consolations is hands down one of my favourite releases of 2021 so far, an opinion I am certain will not change over the course of the year. I have previously described the way that Clara’s music seems to trap time; slowing it down and allowing you to experience a pure moment of calm and that impression is only enhanced by watching this performance.

The live session was organised by Clara’s label Sad Club Records in association with Delinquent Zine and was filmed in London on board Lightship 95 which is moored at Trinity Buoy Wharf, just across the river from the O2 Arena. Trinity Buoy Wharf was originally where Thames buoys were made and maintained, lighthouse lights were tested and lightships (AKA lightvessels) docked for repairs. If you’ve ever heard the Shipping Forecast on Radio 4 then you will know the names Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic and Machrihanish Automatic and these lightvessels were deployed in areas where the water was too deep to build a lighthouse. The wharf fell into disrepair until the late 1990s when it became a centre for the arts and cultural activities.

As a Bristolian Clara Mann not only feels the pull of the water “so much of my music is influenced by the landscapes I lived alongside through my childhood- by rivers, by holidays by the sea, by the way light falls on water  and Lightship 95 was a resonant place to record the session: “there was something strong and modern about the red steel of the boat, and to me it reflected the side of my music that is about resilience and strength”. The songs from the EP are played without supporting musicians; just Clara, her guitar and voice, filmed simply with two cameras. The vision mixing is subtle and the gentle mixing from wide to close-up matches the mood of the songs. This allows you to concentrate on the intensity of Clara’s performance and the session captures an extra dimension to the music: the way that Clara disappears into the songs while she’s singing them. I got the great sense that she is not acting them out or playing up to the camera, she is moving around the landscape of her songs, experiencing the words as if they have just occurred to her.

This live performance has deepened the respect I have for Clara’s music by showing me that extra dimension, a glimpse of the person behind the music and the humanity and lack of artifice in the performance is striking. Clara’s songs bring a welcome tranquillity to the turbulence of our times and I will restate that she has an extraordinary career ahead her which I can’t wait to see unfold. The full session is available below.

Track list: Thoughtless / Station Song / Waiting For The Flight / I Didn’t Know You Were Leaving Today

Review by Paul F Cook

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