ALBUM REVIEW: Clare Bowen (Self-Titled Album)

Clare Bowen, the mystical Australian who portrays one half of country music’s most-loved fictional couples on hit TV Show Nashville, is about to release her self-titled debut album on 31st August. Here at YLIAS, we were lucky enough to get a pre-release copy. Let’s begin by saying, Bowen really seems to know who she is musically, and by listening to the album, she has created exactly that; it literally couldn’t be anyone else’s piece of work. That is an impressive feat.

Kicking off the album is ‘Let It Rain’ which was debuted on the infamous Bob Harris’ Radio 2 show. As mentioned above, this song is the perfect representation of Bowen’s character. The dreamy, wistful sounds that open up the album are the perfect introduction to Clare and her hippie-like nature.

Unsurprisingly, there is a distinct country vibe along with the singer-songwriter feel of the album. Although it was much expected, as Bowen lives in Nashville, and the project came to life in music city, I was pleasantly overjoyed with just how much the songs leant to the genre. ‘Doors and Corridors’ and ‘Aves’ Song’ are perhaps the ‘most country’ (as they say) on the album. ‘Doors and Corridors’ taking position as the lengthiest track, sitting at 5m 15s, paints the beautiful images of flashbacks, ‘sitting on daddy’s shoulders’, ‘little white room with a blue light’, whilst unfolding the journey that has been taken for her to be where she is today: ‘All of these doors and corridors, they brought me right here.’ Clare really takes her time with this song, making sure the story is being told in the most complex manner.

Moving on to ‘Aves’ Song’, which is my personal favourite on the record, it’s a song about the belief in your dreams and overcoming the impossible. ‘Gravity was not enough, turned out she had wings’ – this lyric is unmentionably stunning. Taking something so general as ‘gravity’ and something so inhumanely abnormal such as ‘wings’ and piecing them together in the same sentence, is such a clever technique to give you the image of a miracle. ‘Aves’ Song’ has such a beautiful melody that blends so splendidly with the rhythm, which is led by the fairly prominent bass line. Also, this song introduces the first instrumental solo of the record.

Jumping back to ‘Tide Rolls In’, what a cool track. You really do get the feeling of a wave; a build-up of instrumentation highlights this. I personally get the panicked feeling of running away from a tide, this could be partially due to the confusing structure. The build-up of the instrumentaion throughout the song begins to swallow the vocal, putting it further back in the mix. I think this is really clever, because as I mentioned before, it really does give you the chaotic feeling of escaping from an incoming tide.

‘All The Bed’s I’ve Made’, the male-female duet on the record, is by far the most highlighted romanticism on the album. Something I found very interesting about this track is looking at the writers credits. Brandon Robert Young (Bowen’s husband) and Bowen are co-writers on most of the record, but neither of them are writers on this song, and being the song it is and so romantic, it would be the first song you’d expect them to write together. I believe the male vocal on this track is in fact Young (even though I can’t seem to find any information on the male vocal), the fact that neither are writers on the track allows them to put everything they have into the vocal, as sometimes being completely disconnected from the writing helps with putting all your emotion in to one thing. This time it’s the mysterious, sexy and passionate vocal they have produced together.

‘Little by Little’ is a song that is no secret to our ears, having been released last year, co-written with favourite British songwriter Amy Wadge and husband Brandon Robert Young. It’s hard to say if this is a stand out track on the album, just because we already know it, but it’s definitely holds an epic feel. It absolutely stands highly on my ranking. The build-up of the production mirrors the techniques used in ‘Tide Rolls In’, again dispersing that big, masterful emotion. With the comforting chords and simple rhymes, it’s obvious to hear this song is very close to Bowen’s heart.

Anything Lori Mckenna ever writes on is an intrigue to me. ‘Grace of God & You’ is no exception. McKenna’s stamp on this track is clear. Co-written with Stephanie Lambring, who has written many of the Nashville TV show songs, including ‘Love You Home’.

The album’s release comes just in time for Clare’s first headline UK tour, where she is set to play hugely historic venues such as the Royal Albert Hall in London. If you haven’t already got your ticket, get one now, as when this album comes out, tickets are going to fly out. This gem of musical artwork is beautiful and whimsical and a perfect insight to Bowen’s fairy-like world. With a professional edge on the song writing, the deepness in the lyrics presents Bowen as a serious musician, which could have been a hardship with her being an actress up until now. I think Clare Bowen has a long and prosperous musical career ahead of her, mainly due to the fact she is so, so true to herself.

Shannon Hynes
@S_HynesMusic