Los Angele’s Clare Means stands out in an overcrowded indie music scene – her ability to deliver just what you need in the time you need it is both refreshing and magical. She hits all the emotions with effortless energy. Means, whose newest album Sidewalk Astronomy charts together starry-eyed reflective songs and emotional landscapes so soothing it’s like floating. Just when you think you’re at a lull, her tender vocals hug deep into your being.
The 11-track masterpiece is full of Americana-roots rich gems. She’s an amazing singer-songwriter. Means weaves hopelessness, loss of family, love and every-day life into delicious wordsmith stews. While others evoke pain and melancholy in their voices for such deep emotions, Means has such an empathetic voice it’s as if she’s nurturing you.
“Bobby,” the first song, is a poignant introduction. According to her bio, Means wrote the song after the death of her father. She yearned for a relationship, only to run out of time. She sings, “The last leaves of autumn are trembling on your vine.” This is just one example of Means’ exceptional lyrical mastery. Just as Henry David Thorough captured nature and its beauty, Means pains such a clear picture of those leaves you feel the leaves crumbling in your hands.
The song “Fiery One” shows a bit more feistiness, as does the up tempo standout “Master Manipulator Magnet.’ There’s something about these songs that showcase a different personality and depth to Means’ psyche. I loved the cheekiness to these tracks. Means has some spunk! In “Master Manipulator Magnet,” an extremely relatable song, I loved the chasing-like music bed. It sounded like horses escaping the herd.
Other standout tracks (let’s bee honest, I loved all of the tracks on Sidewalk Astronomy) are “Danger,” “Sheepocrisy,” and “Hollywood Zoo.” Means keeps you engaged and wondering how she will wickedly weave her words.
She plays a mean piano too. Just beautiful. Most of the songs have a strong guitar music bed. Her guitar work is also outstanding, but it’s just eloquent enough to feel like she’s holding back…giving her lyrics front and center attention. While her bio boasts her success as a street performer, I think at first I had a certain bias. She has both the wow factor and the ability to read people. She comes across as a pseudo hippie, but more multi-layered and immeasurably smart in her human experience assessment.
Kudos to her original style and presentation. She’s not showy in her songs, but she definitely has flare for words and the charisma to nab a large audience. Fans of Regina Spektor, Dolly Parton, The Pierces, Dixie Chicks, Arlo Guthrie and Malvina Reynolds will totally embrace Clare Means.
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