There was a time in the music industry when if you wanted to get that coveted record deal you would need to record some demos, put a band together and play some shows, all the while trying to catch the attention of some label fat cats. Today things work a little differently. Take for example the success of Clairo. The 20 year old singer songwriter originally from Athens, Georgia, shot to fame based on a song she recorded and put up on YouTube. The track “Pretty Girl” was recorded in her bedroom with resources that she has described as, “pretty shitty”, regardless, the song amassed over 15 million views online and catapulted Clairo AKA Claire Cottrill on to the world stage. Clairo is set to release her debut full length album, IMMUNITY, this week and then will be heading out on a stadium tour with Khalid. That’s a lot of success in a short amount of time and in a pretty unorthodox way but even without the controversy the young singer has courted in the past few years, claims that nepotism got her this attention and her record deal, IMMUNITY does have moments that should alleviate any concern that Clairo is in anyway a fraud.
IMMUNITY is not a record that will speak for it’s generation but it is definitely full of well crafted pop music and performed with authority by Clairo. The album kicks off with the track “Alewife” with it’s twinkling, melancholic piano, steady drum beat and plaintively strummed acoustic guitar. Clairo has a delicate singing voice but one that doesn’t come across as fragile at all. “Impossible” follows suit with its easy going drum gait and washed out synths. The production is very minimal across the board but showcases the singer’s voice which remains calm but unwavering. “Closer To You” attempts to place the record in a more modern radio context. Trapp-y beats and auto tuned vocals are the least interesting thing about the song and ultimately distract from the fine songwriting on display. “North” ratchets the proceedings up a bit. It comes across as the first somewhat uptempo song on the record but Ciaro still keeps her vocal styling pretty breezy. “Sofia” is the first song on the record that seems like a bit of an attempt to be a club hit. Four on the floor drums and the coolly affected vocals of the chorus although it remains at the records established steady pace which probably won’t get anyone really going on the dance floor anytime soon. IMMUNITY culminates in the almost seven minute opus “I Wouldn’t Ask You pt i & pt ii” which keeps the chilly, downtempo R&B vibe of the record going.
Clairo may have come to her success through ways that some may feel is invalid but it’s clear the singer/songwriter does possess a ton of talent. It’ll be interesting to see how the songs of IMMUNITY fare on stadium stages as opposed to a smaller setting. Throughout the album’s running time we are treated to some interesting production and a plethora of good songs that do keep the spotlight firmly planted on the singer. Unfortunately it remains so similar to itself that after sitting with the whole thing you may be hard pressed to remember the individual songs and rather come away with the feel that the record presents; a collection of cool mid tempo songs that only really suit headphones late at night or the intimacy of your own apartment when you want to set a nicely relaxing vibe.
review by Adam Fink
07/31 – Madison Square Garden – New York, NY*
08/03 – Capitol One Arena – Washington, DC*
08/04 – XL Center – Hartford, CT*
08/06 – Scotiabank Arena – Toronto, ON*
08/08 – The Bell Centre – Montreal, BC*
08/10 – TD Garden – Boston, MA*
08/11 – Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia, PA*
08/13 – Spectrum Center – Charlotte, NC*
08/14 – State Farm Arena – Atlanta, GA*
08/16 – Amway Center – Orlando, FL*
08/17 – American Airlines Arena – Miami, FL*