How often can you tell if an album will be good by listening to the first ten seconds? Not very often. Usually, it takes at least two or three songs, or sometimes two of three listens to the album in its entirety to get the full scope of what you are hearing. On Clare and the Reasons debut LP The Movie, it doesn't take long for one to come to the realization that this isn't just another band releasing an album into a sea of mediocrity. This is a special piece of musical art.
There are two elements that go into making Clare and the Reasons as successful a project as it is. Firstly, Clare Muldaur Manchon, who wrote and sings beautifully on all of the songs on the album, is the key piece to this puzzle. She is no novice songwriter. Before joining with the Reasons she released two solo records on her own. But in joining with the Reasons, her music has taken a big step forward. The Reasons, who serve as Muldaur's back-up band, choir and orchestra, bring each song on this album to life. While Clare can obviously stand on her own two feet, it's hard to imagine that this album would have the same muscle without the Reasons. So while Clare may be the key piece to the puzzle, the Reasons give each piece of the puzzle their stunning color and shape.
The Movie is also an apt title for this album, as it has a sort of dramatic, film-score-esque quality to it. The album's first track, "Pluto", with its enlightening pizzicato and rich orchestration, is a perfect example. "Nothing, Nowhere" has some vocal harmonies that would make even Danny Elfman jealous. But the true apex of film-score beauty comes in the form of "Science Fiction Man", a harpsichord heavy piece, with an outro that would be a perfect fit for the heart wrenchingly dramatic ending scene.
In the end, The Movie is a stunning debut album (that can hardly be called a debut) from one of the most exciting singer/songwriters of today. While artists like Joanna Newsom, Feist and My Brightest Diamond have claimed the top of the female independent musician podium for some time now, it may be time to make some room for a new voice. Clare and the Reasons have emerged onto the scene, and there is reason to believe they are here to stay. -Greg Lozoff