The Guardian 4/3/16 (Imogen Tilden)
A strange journey over this last year has taken singer Clara Sanabras from James Horner and his Titanic soundtrack, via a plane crash and a shipwreck, to the rough magic of Shakespeare’s Tempest
A hum about my ears: from the Titanic to the Tempest
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A Hum About Mine Ears, World Première 2014
The main event was A Hum About Mine Ears by the poet and composer Clara Sanabras, raised in Barcelona, who delivered her solos with great Spanish passion from the steps of the pulpit, an enthralling, colourful work inspired by Shakespeare and roaming through blues, waltzes, touches of avant garde and even echoes of European folk music.
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Review by Mark Ellen
Songs of Spanish Exile Launch - Luz de Gas, Barcelona
Clara Sanabras is a folkie without being a folklorist; ethereal yet exempt of the New Age artifice of Enya; cinematic but with more substance than Loreena McKennitt, and a little mystical, without the affectation of Lisa Gerrard. Her music is inviting, poetic, and evokes parallel realities without leaving the ground.
Joan Bianciotto, El Periodico - Oct 2014
"A gorgeous place to be"
"Her sound sits richly between, Camille, Mariza and Joanna Newsom - gorgeous place to be"
The Emblem “vibrantly exotic world-folk”
“Richly diverse and accomplished, The Emblem underlines Clara Sanabras’s stylistic variety. This is not altogether surprising given that Sanabras has Sioux and Gypsy blood running through her veins, was born in France, raised in Barcelona and now resides in London. Consequently her songs, her arrangements, her clear, resonant voice, and the instruments she plays –including baroque and renaissance guitars, Indian harmonium, charango and Telecaster – combine to produce what can be best described as vibrantly exotic world-folk. Lively and spirited throughout, Sanabras’s tunes take in blues (the excellent ‘Trace Of An Accent’), Asian sounds and Latin rhythms (‘Tokyo Cherry Blossom’) and two-step country and rockabilly (‘Ode to Jimmy Jo’) while her lyrics touch on topical issues – the post banking-crisis state of the world on ‘Truth be told’, racism on ‘Trace of an Accent’ and a woman’s place in the world on ‘Woman, Girl, Juxtaposed’. So plenty here, then, to occupy and interest, highlights and surprises are everywhere and for a taste of what lies within, check out the atmospheric ‘Dovetailing Love’, and the folksy ‘The Owls” on which Sanabras is joined to good effect by rosemary Standley (of French band, Moriarty).”
The Emblem “This is something different, something special”
“Clara Sanabras is one of those artists who is quite an interesting proposition when encountered on paper, before even a note has been heard of her music. She has Sioux and Gypsy blood, was born in France, raised in Spain and now calls herself a Londoner. Amongst the instruments she plays on this album are baroque guitar, telecaster and Indian harmonium. To describe her as folk or world (shudder) music would be a case of very lazy categorisation, because there’s a whole heap of influences from across Europe and indeed further afield that come into play on this album. Perhaps close comparisons would be Maddy Prior and Joanna Newsom; she has the respect of folk traditions and purity of voice of the former, whilst the visionary approach of the latter. There’s a number of great tracks on this labum that can’t but help win you around ‘Dovetailing Love’ ‘Ode To Jimmy Jo and the title track, to name but three. There’s a number of artists who get lumped in with the ‘world’ music lot who seem to produce music that’s very worthy and utterly dull, and usually leaves people rather afraid to admit that they don’t like, or don’t get it. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that Ms. Sanabras is of that ilk. This is something different, something special -and unlikely to soundtrack a dinner party near you any time soon.
Hopetown House: “sumptous”
“Clara Sanabras has some backstory- her past lives including appearing with Al Pacino in The Merchant of Venice and working with Stockhausen. Her second album channels nu-folk (“The Good Ship Father”) haunting swing (the title track), and Brechtian cabaret on a dozen adventurous melodies that take unexpected, serpentine turns as she sings (mostly in English) in a dramatic voice over striking chamber arrangements. Her sound sits richly somewhere between Camille, Mariza and Joanna Newsom -a gorgeous place to be.”
Hopetown House, “...outstanding mucisianship”
Clara Sanabras has a remarkable voice- somewhere between Julie Felix and Nora Jones with the phrasing of Jake Thackeray and the musicianship of her band, of the Real Lowdown is astounding. Barcelona born and now a north London resident Ms Sanabras is nothing less than prolific with 17 albums to her name; well not exactly “her name” but she appears on 17 mostly Spanish or Classical albums in some capacity. Hopetown House mixes Clara’s observations and experiences in a feminine Scott Walker manner over a range of clever musical arrangements. Tales of an absent father (Good Ship Father); a message on a suitcase (Luggage) and even a friend’s paranoia (Not a man of many words) mingle easily alongside songs in her native language. Hopetown House (Songs of Coincidence and Fate) is sumptuously packaged and will probably attract the eye of the casual music buyer in the jazz-world music section of a record shop and will definitely appeal to the readers of the weekend broadsheets who will coo and tweet that they have discovered the new Amy/Nora/Duffy, or whoever as they listen int heir Mercedes and Lexus.
Hopetown House- “World Record of the Week”
The Barcelonan singer Clara Sanabras has made London her home. Her first album under her own name is suffused with a romantic urban melancholy that runs through the stylistic variation: country-pop swing, folk, jazz, blues. The title track, dedicated to the writer Roger Deakin, defends local history against the encroachments of the corporate high street. The ever-reliable musical arranger Harvey Brough helps Sanabras craft settings, for London’s most cosmopolitan folk musicians, that complement her voice and guitar playing.
David Honigmann, Financial Times
Clara and the Real Lowdown – Vortex, London
While arcane, “uncommercial” groups pack out cult venues, it can be tougher for a group with a broader appeal. You can imagine Clara Sanabras’s new group being a big hit with Radio 2 listeners, folkies, Prommers, Jools-watchers, Womad-goers and so on, but those fans don’t rush to Dalston jazz clubs on freezing nights. Yet the band are undeterred by the low turnout, delivering two sets that draw from many colourful traditions: folk, country, cinema, theatre and Sanabras’s Hispanic roots, expressed through tunes such as Mediterráneo and her own Barcelona Blues. Sanabras, whose day job is performing early music (Charivari Agréable, the Harp Consort, Retrospect, etc), brings a refreshing twist to the singer-songwriter tradition. She has chosen her accomplices well, notably guitarist-pianist Harvey Brough and violinist Dylan Bates, who adds an inventive commentary to the wry Nothing More to Look Forward To. As a seasonal gesture, the three of them sing an unaccompanied version of There Is No Rose, a 15th-century carol. Sanabras’s vocals can change dramatically within songs, swooping from intimate lower registers to high-pitched drama. At times, the Real Lowdown recall Fairground Attraction, which also featured Roy Dodds’ imaginative drumming. The band’s rhythm section of Dodds and Andy Hamill (bass) bring detail and musical credibility to the rolling, feelgood rhythms, and Brough’s arrangements make the most of the acoustic sounds at his disposal. Sanabras swaps stringed instruments throughout, starting with the spine-tingling charango for Dance of Solitude. She also plays a baroque guitar, featured on Mecano’s 80s hit Hijo de la Luna: the interplay between Brough’s acoustic and the more throaty baroque instrument is appealing. Hopetown House foregrounds a ukelele that she “bought on eBay for £25?, and her Doobies-style Telecaster on Things Behind the Sun takes the band in yet another direction.
John L Walters - The Guardian
Clara & The Real Lowdown
If the female folk that makes its way onto ads like Audi’s and Orange’s has any appeal, and you’re into performance art, then Clara Sanabras has something for your mind. This is cerebral music, jazzy, latin and beautifully performed – like Later With Jools Holland to the nth degree. It is a whole shelf above Madeleine Peyroux – like Andrew Bird’s classical side given its head in a Barcelona gallery. Lovely. Mike Rea.
Adult Contemporary Essentials
Music of Howard Shore at the National Concert Hall Dublin (April 2014)
A selection from Shore’s Seven Pieces for Chamber Orchestra were played next. Emotive fluttering strings opened the performance with a constantly changing wind-like quality. Clara Sanabras hauntingly beautiful voice produced swelling and carefully controlled notes, and with her breathy tone, wowed the audience.
"Pure delight" (Ana Hina/ Natacha Atlas collaboration)
Atlas clearly enjoyed working with a new team of musicians, and most notable amongst these is the singer and guitarist, Clara Sanabras. A darling of the early music fraternity, her contributions are utterly enchanting and the duet on ‘La Vida Callada’ is pure delight. Just as Natacha Atlas’ future looked a little uncertain, she presents us with something alluring, intriguing and extremely witty.”
"All in all, rather wonderful" (Ana Hina/ Natacha Atlas collaboration)
“Ana Hina, is even better. A cover of Black is the Colour is a smart counterpoint to the Mediterranean feel of the rest of the album, but the standout moment is La Vida Callada, a dramatic duet with the Spaniard Clara Sanabras, based on a Frida Kahlo poem. All in all, rather wonderful.”