I was going to review two CDs today but I've been unexpectedly busy, and I also have to get on with designing the cover for the skiffle CD (which is going to be titled Anarchy Skiffle after one of the songs). After a spiritual quest this morning and a walk along the Camden Towpath at lunchtime in the moody spring sunshine (sun-hail-rain-wind-snow-sun), I sat down to listen to the one I chose to review, Claudia's E.P. Tell Me Your Dreams.
Claudia is an Austrian songwriter who is studying in London which is why we met. There is something distinctive and classic about her songwriting which puts her music a cut above the average, and she is writing yet more songs as you read this and with any luck will have an album to release before the end of the year.
Good music is difficult to describe: of course, you can't disentangle your own engagement from it. But also, it's the way that a line ends on an unexpected chord, perhaps, or tiny emotional nuances that pull a singer out of perfection and into expression at just the right moment.
Claudia's songs remind me a little of Peter Hall's, a songwriter who comes to the Songwriting Weekend in Dumfries. He spent hours sitting in the shade of a tree writing a song to his girlfriend and brought the house down with it that evening when he played it.
This is an E.P. which she has released herself although you can listen to her songs here https://soundcloud.com/claudia-heidegger
The title track, The Other Side, has shades of Terry Callier and showcases Claudia's violin playing (as do some of the other tracks). Tell Me Your Dreams is a jaunty folk song about disappointment driven along by the ukulele. My two favourites, which are fighting for top billing, are Come Back for Me which features a chord-piano of layered harmonies that form a bed for a lovely, high and wistful vocal performance, and No Reason to Reason. The first of these, in spite of its unusual arrangement, has such a strong melody that it could be covered in all sorts of different genres and still hold its head up. No Reason to Reason, listed as a bonus track, is the star of the show. It reminded me of Judy Collins and the orchestration could have been arranged by Peter Asher (the arranger on James Taylor's first album).
Cathartic listening this Sunday afternoon, and recommended for you to listen right now, whatever day of the week you read this.
Hot off the press: https://soundcloud.com/claudia-heidegger/shape-of-your-shadow/s-gWUbR