Is it wrong that I look forward to Fridays now, not just because the weekend is here – which isn’t what I live for – but because it gives us all the opportunity to reflect on the week and look at our own accomplishments or failures. Ok, maybe I worded that wrong there because a failure is nothing more than an opportunity, or a chance, to get something right the next time around. Samuel Beckett had once said “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” That’s what life is about. A number of people disagree and counter with thoughts of getting things right the first time but in reality, we’re all flawed creatures. So try again.
Clair Morales is a bit of an, um, anomaly. I’ve never placed judgment on anything or anyone before listening to their music but my assumption here was based on the vampiric imagery of her cover art, and I was assured goth was sure to ensue. But cover art appreciation aside, All That Wanting (self-released) is something altogether different from what my own perceived reaction was. In fact, it shudders and shakes with a uniqueness that’s cleverly pieced together. Morales hails from Denton, Texas which has been a hotbed for sheer creativity (Centro-Matic, Neon Indian, Midlake, Parquet Courts, South San Gabriel, etc.) and now she adds her own name to the mix. The new album follows up her sorely ignored 2015 release Amaranthine, began her solo journey, which had more of a southern twist to it, and continues on the new release, but includes so much more.
Her new album here opens with the title track that rocks with precision and her haunting quivering vocals looming over it. Musically, it’s as powerful as anything I’ve ever heard, as dual guitars play off of one another, the rhythm section scratches and claws its way from the depths of hell to freedom, and background vocals are evocative and difficult to ignore. Once the song ends, this is where she confounds listeners because Morales isn’t sticking to a strict formulaic sound as she follows with “Sibylle,” a track that lulls you in with guitar notes bending alongside piano keys and brushes on drums. But it’s Morales’ distinctive voice here that holds all the individual pieces together to make one sound. I’m still fucking confounded at how beautiful she and her backing band, made up of Alex Hastings, Ryan Williams and Russ Connell, make it so damned delectable and expansive. The band hits the throttle once more on “No Telling” though, which is straightforward but Morales and her cohorts stamp it with a signature of their own that’s pretty distinctive. They conceptualize things with “Diana I,” which seems to suffer through darkness before rumbling through “Diana II,” opening with its tribalistic drum pattern before exploding with colorful lyricism and driving rhythm. Whichever mode Claire Morales is moving in, whether it’s the powerful & challenging movement of “Wildest Dreams,” which is astounding with the gorgeous melody, or the slower-paced expanse of “Enough,” she engages with a love of her craft that amazes. All The Wanting is different. It’s different from anything any of her contemporaries are working on out there. Morales takes her own musical influences and blends them into something that’s quite unique. We should all expect to hear more from her and cherish the fact that she goes against the grain, avoids the status quo, and is just balls to the wall here. She’s an example many should follow.