Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Music 2011 - Clara Engel - Madagascar EP

The chain of events that led to me purchasing this pretty much sums up everything that I like about music and writing a blog all rolled into one. Three days ago I knew nothing - not even the existence - of this artist.  By yesterday evening I was listening to physical music by the same... something that only the combination of the digital age, independent artists, labels and stores and snail-mail-on-speed could achieve.

Clara Engel is a singer-songwriter from Toronto, Canada and a very prolific one so my research since Wednesday attests.  The Madagascar EP is however her first physical release and it is, even for purists and I am not one of them, a 'proper' EP - three tracks on vinyl, in this case of the 12" 45 rpm variety and only in this format.  It is released by new label Vox Humana Records as VHR01. It is available from Rough Trade Records, always a dependable source for new music.
Now to the music.  I don't tend to write about music that I don't like and this is certainly no exception. Many of the UK-based comments on Clara Engel's music compare her to Anna Calvi, indeed the Rough Trade website and sticker on the cover did so. That is unfair, if a little understandable. Yes, they both write, sing and play guitar big time but actually Anna Calvi is the newcomer here if already better known in the UK; we can do parochial just as well as anyone else and I don't think lumping both artists together does either of them a favour.
Take a listen to this EP or indeed any of the other downloads available from and make up your own mind. There is plenty as her next album will be her eighth or ninth! The three tracks on the EP come from two albums; 'Blind Me' and 'Madagascar' from 'Secret Beasts' and 'Accompanied by Dreams' from 'The Bethlehem Tapes'.  There is a new album in the making, so long as she can get the funding together to make it happen. Another track from 'Secret Beasts' is 'Lick My Fins', which is available as a free, legal download.

You owe it to yourself to listen to new music. If it turns out that you don't like it then that is just fine but at least you will know and so it will influence your future forays in to the unknown.  What I want to do is take it out (on vinyl) and find people to play it to...


gogmagog said...

addressing just paragraph one, we are of one mind. for all the soul or romance the digital age may have sucked out of record shopping it has added a component heretofore unimaginable in that I, stuck in rural parts unknown, can be intrigued by a new artist on Sunday, place an order to investigate and be listening - and spreading the word within 48 hours. I guess progress ain't all bad!

Richard G said...

That was mighty quick work! Thanks for your comment; I was probably still tweaking the post (correcting mistakes,etc.)when you were reading.
I'm pretty lucky in that in Frome there is a big independent record store and a good live music scene but digital technology has its place.
The funniest thing is how I found this...