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New York City-based songwriter Clara Joy has the soundtrack to life that you didn’t know you needed. Her most recent record, Growing Pains is an endearing short collection of tracks which touches on themes like purpose and death. Joy sheds her thoughts into these songs, as if they were ripped from her diary, augmenting them with intimacy and wry yet pensive lyrics. The opening vignette, “Never Tell” is a a hushed anecdote on verboten love:
You told me you would never tell Your parents we were going to hell And our souls can never be forgiven Because they have their own religion
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Intimate and quaint, New York City ambiance leaks into the track from where it was recorded, but even the harshness that comes with it is dulled. On “Blow A Kiss”, a multitude of thoughts race around in an unending stream of consciousness in moments before death. A steady delivery of juxtaposing ideas bounce alongside a sole elastic bass-line. The flurry of thoughts range from deep inflection or questioning the arbitrary. Like anti-folk mainstays Kimya Dawson and Jeffrey Lewis, Joy mixes in deep inner monologues with quirky and direct humor on a sometimes sober topic like death. “Time Is Running Out” is a swaying existentialist ballad, where Joy ponders the unknowns and the fear of having them unanswered before its too late. The hazy penultimate track “Simple Days” is a somber cut on the slow fading of youth. A chilling track with a slow sear, Joy sings of the banal routines that life can get ensconced in:
Dreams about a ticking hand Out of bed it’s 5 am Cant be late, their counting heads Get back home and start again
Joy’s hollowed vocals are ethereal and feint dance on the layers of dreamy guitars emulate the sense of fleeting time and the lost sense in what to fill it up with. Contrasting the philosophical theme that consumed the tracks before it, “Who’s Perfect For You?” is a ballad to help pair each of us to our perfect partner. For much of the record, Joy has been wandering aimlessly, searching for a glimmer of a purpose. Playing the role of an advice columnist/astrologist, she looks to the stars for direction and comfort from a novel source.
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Although it may be construed as a “coming-of-age” record, theres much more here. It’s a concise record that rummages through the obscurities of existence.
Cereal Pairing: Apple Jacks