Clara Sanabras THE EMBLEM Smudged Discs SMU604*** (July/Aug 2012)
There is a jazzy technique to this but plenty of folk, a little bit of country too and overall a very charming feminine feel to the whole album, even down to the sleeve design. The opening title track is intended to be the fitting together of pieces of a jigsaw to produce a complete picture “The Emblem.” I could not quite get to grips with it but I really enjoyed the second track which is the country-tinged “Ode to Jimmy Jo,” despite its obvious similarities in title and tune to Bobbie Gentry’s famous song. Clara’s lyric tells of taking in an orphaned boy who is just too young to remember anything about his background. A very interesting track is the meditative, “The Owls,” sung mostly in French, based on the poem by Charles Baudelaire, language is not a problem towards your enjoyment of this, even my very elementary French got me by. Rosemary Standley lead singer of Moriarty duets beautifully on this track. I didn’t particularly like “Truth Be Told” which tries to comment on the world banking crisis in a three minute song and that’s mission impossible. It works better for another massive and sensitive subject—racism—the substance of “Trace of an Accent” and here the point comes over luminously clear.The best track for me is “Woman, Girl, Juxtaposed” which eloquently relates the various stages in life and has an all-embracing message that age is just a number. The theme of defiant female independence also comes through on “My Dress” which is a duet with Caitriona O’Leary. I also enjoyed Clara’s treatment of the traditional Irish lilt “The Flower Of Magherally” which I guess she must have picked up on one of her tours. It makes for a very good finishing track to the album.French-born, raised in Barcelona and now domiciled in London a singer, actress (appeared alongside Al Pacino and Bill Nighy), songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Clara is clearly a lady of abundant talents with many albums to her name either as a solo artist or helping with the projects of friends and colleagues. Given the style of singing and Sanabras’ origin and background comparisons with Madelaine Peyroux are inevitable, but fairly pointless, they are both very gifted. THE EMBLEM should further enhance Clara’s reputation.