New York City based artist Clara Hannigan released her debut single, “Sonder” in November of 2021. At the time, she was a transplant from a small town in Maine paving her own way and embarking on new ventures in a bustling new city. When most of us would naturally feel culture shock, Clara’s “Sonder” embraced the new and unknown. After a less jovial follow up “Broken Bottles” (a heartbreaker of a song) back in January, it seemed as though Clara was fully emersed in defining a sound that I would describe as “Jazzy R&B.” She personally cites Amy Winehouse and Billie Holiday as big influences, likely a couple of my personal favorite artists of all time as well. That more contemporary jazz influence is highly evident in her third release “Rolling Away” from April earlier this year. By my ear, taking in the entire catalog so far into consideration, my initial first impressions of her sound also reminded me of the jazzy but smooth “edginess” of Fiona Apple. More on the “smooth” side of things, I feel like I hear moments that remind me of Alicia Keys as well. It is a super pleasant and easy on the ears kind of music. She’s a fantastic songwriter and she has a new song released as of last Thursday, October 27th called, “Human Heart.” While the last three singles are “niche” to her personal style, each track has a distinct personality, so I was very curious as to what was in store for this new track. Have a listen.
I talked about my initial impressions about the first three singles, so naturally as I listened to this new one I was pondering about what will be uniquely different about this one, Clara as a writer just seems to have that tendency to give each track a unique personality in some way at least contextually and lyrically. Be it from a positive fearless anthem, to a gut-wrenching breakup song, to light-hearted contemporary piece. The first thing I noticed about “Human Heart” is that she is not speaking from the first person in this one. She is singing as a narrator in third person, yet she still delivers a very emotional performance vocally. That concept (the storyteller type) is a Folk music approach. Interesting. Lyrically it sounds like she is describing a woman that is in complete control. Which is normally not a bad thing depending on what the control is, but this particular context it seems as though the control factor of the antagonist is to a fault. The power of the girl Clara is describing comes to power over the “you” she is speaking to in the song via infatuation. The opening line of the song lyrically is, “She walked in and took your attention, with a look to paralyze.” Later she references other toxic traits of the conceptual antagonist such as the lyric “you’ll have to beg for time,” and actually my favorite bit of the lyrics which are the catchiest part, the hook of the song: “She’ll never ask you, she never has to, that’s the catch with a girl like that.”
Sound-wise, she is in proper form with beautifully played piano and expressive vocal delivery. Still, what I would consider “Jazzy R&B,” but this one heavy on the R&B. The song has a slapping bass and beat. Hip hop vibes in there. I mean, it’s not completely out of left field, music theory wise, to incorporate Jazz roots to something Funky, but indeed it makes for a nice and interesting blend of sound. A great sound. Like Clara’s last three singles, this piece was written and produced in a small independent studio in Brooklyn, New York. Cheers Clara! It sounds fantastic.
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You can obviously find it in the following Playlists: Less Than 1,000 Followers, Fresh Singles, Indie Only, Female Rising Stars, 12 New Songs This Week, and Unknown But Essentials!
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