Artist Watch: Getting 'Close' To Alex Clare
Friday, August 3, 2012
UK talent Alex Clare wants to be everything. He wants to be a soulful crooner (and that is unmistakably true once his rousing vocal chops kick in). He also wants to be a club banging sultan, as the pulsating beats that back most of his material could make the speakers bleed. Then there are the Reggae nods, the dubstep dabbles, the affection for his homeland's Garage scene, the Folk music charms, etc. His 2011 debut album, The Lateness Of The Hour is all of these personas, interests, genres, and ideas, and you'd think it'd be a jumbled mess, but in fact it's far from it---Alex Clare is everything, and more.
I should file the Mike Spencer and Major Lazer produced The Lateness Of The Hour in the bin of: "Albums I Should Have Listened To Last Year", because if I had known this incredibly solid album had existed, it would have no doubt been on my end-of-year list. Still what a discovery. I've already had some immediate favorites right after the first listen. "Hands Are Clever" is his lovely Stevie Wonder moment, but I really prefer his meditative moments such as the gorgeous "Treading Water" and the dubby "I Love You". Oh, and someone who can tackle and reshape Prince's "When Doves Cry" into a dizzying electro-soul punk thingamajig and come out sounding highly respectable of his Purple Majesty deserves, I don't know, a big ol' bag of chocolate or something. It's a fantastic cover.
Clare actually remedies what has been the irk and ill of many a soul purist---he doesn't dilute the genre with all the electro-poppiness in the background. He courses it to stay true to the original blueprint while also being tantalizing and original for the modern era. The best example of that is his bubbling single "Too Close" which one will probably recognize as the theme song to Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 commercial. Whether you abhor IE9 or not, you have to admit the song is startling, unique, and Clare's powerhouse vocals (man, does he give me a James Morrison vibe...) plow through with such force that it's arresting. Even with all the zig-zag pound of the electronics in the background, Clare is crystal clear in his vocal delivery and it's welcoming. If eclectic albums and ambitious vocalists make you do somersaults, then by all means catch up to Clare.