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Clara Engel — A New Skin
(Bandcamp Elephant Shrew Editions, 2020, CD / DL)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2021-08-14Clara Engel is a Canadian singer-songwriter in much the same vein as Timothy Renner of Stone Breath. Her new solo album, A New Skin, has unique packaging. The CD is housed in a paper sleeve inside an envelope and the over-sized lyric booklet is printed on stiff parchment paper and housed in a larger second envelope, but the CD envelope does not fit inside the lyric booklet envelope. Storing it presents some unique challenges. A New Skin features eight songs with Clara singing and playing cigar box guitar, electric guitar, melodica, and harmonica. Though other than the acoustic and electric guitars, you could think Clara is instead playing keyboards. The music itself is dark folk laced with acid folk, evoking mages of post-apocalyptic bare trees, weed-choked gardens, and burned cities. I particularly like the beautiful and nightmarish pseudo-lullaby “Night Tide” and its catchy chorus “Are you coming home? The queen of the underworld wants to know.” Then Clara presents her fragile apocalyptic vision of “On Nightingale Wings,” watching the city burn and witnessing as “Wild dogs feast on nightingale wings, everybody needs to eat.” The title track closes the album with its similarity to the dark lullaby “All the Pretty Little Horses.” A wonderful listening experience and a nice break from other more complex music.
Related artist(s): Clara Engel
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