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Clara Joy’s somber new album starts with the first of many questions: “do you remember me?”. Her last release, “growing pains,” showcased her close, haunting voice and sparse, original guitar progressions. Her follow up record, “do you remember me,” is an extremely personal and honest collection of her thoughts and observations. The title track shows Clara Joy’s ability to glide around traditional vocal melodies, casting an eerie shade on the questioning lyrics. The guitars sway, layering on top of each other in Joy’s mode of reserved intensity. She never strays far from the stripped back instrumentation but the album is full of little sounds: A buzz or a pop, the familiar squeak of fingertips moving on the neck of a guitar. It sounds close, like we’re in the room.
“Egomaniac” is a driving tune that pulses around the syllables of the title. The space left by Clara Joy’s upfront, and occasionally spoken, vocals are filled with elongated backup voices and an organ that balances just on the periphery. “Body on the Sidewalk” checks in with our narrator as we find Clara Joy discovering something shocking while on a walk. Laced between the descriptions of the possibly dead man lying on the ground are quick observations on the nature of loneliness. The song floats along in an airy melancholia that pulls the sweet instrumental together with the heavy subject matter.
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The unnerving chord that sits second in the progression of “Going Down” strikes a dark note to fit the song’s mood, one that asks the listener to imagine the day that Clara Joy is laid to rest.
“I want my name to live forever
so i can leave in comfort
i want my name to live forever
cause i’m scared to be forgot“
She isn’t subtle in describing her death; It’s her frank delivery of lines like “my bones will be put in the ground“ that grab the reader as if they are a close friend and confident.
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“Graduation” is a cynical closer that gives the listener the singer’s full trust. The lilt of Clara Joy’s voice as she breathes into the line “I’m not going to graduation” feels gloomy but proud, and as the song winds down into the refrain the image of the singer comes into full view. High school is over and Clara Joy knows who she is. Her music provides a subtly beautiful backdrop for her realizations and self-discovery.
“Congratulations.,” I say to Clara Joy. She will be remembered.
Cereal Pairing: Cocoa Krispies