For the past 6 years Clare Bowen has been better known as Scarlett O’Connor, her character in the long-running Country music drama Nashville. After getting a second chance and moving from ABC to CMT following its fourth season, Nashville ran for two more seasons before coming to an end earlier this summer. Bowen, like many of her co-stars, has been recording, writing and performing original music throughout the duration of the show’s run and now she’s releasing her debut solo album.
Anyone who has seen the Nashville cast on tour the past few years, will already have heard some of the songs on this record. Bowen wove them seamlessly into her set list and they stood tall next to the songs she recorded for the show. This self-titled debut opens with the gentle sway of Let It Rain, a track that embraces Bowen’s Americana leanings and it’s the perfect way to draw you into the record. It also sets the tone for the heartfelt, honest stories Bowen has to share over the course of this collection.
If you expect Bowen’s songs to sound like those of Scarlett O’Connor, you’re in for a bit of a shock. Of course Bowen’s gorgeous voice drives the melody of each song but musically it’s more adventurous than what we heard from Scarlett the past 6 years. While primarily influenced by Americana, the record has elements of pop, folk and Country in the mix too, with Bowen drawing inspiration from the marvellous female singer-songwriters that she grew up listening to.
Doors & Corridors is a sumptuous 5-minute song with stirring instrumentation and a steady beat that reflects on growing up, the punchy Tide Rolls In is an uptempo moment with a chorus that demands you sing along, and Lullabye brings to mind Sarah McLachlan at her best with a little Kate Bush influence in there too. Little by Little, one of the tracks Bowen released prior to the record, is a fine example of Bowen’s ability to enable her fans to feel hope even when they may feel like there is no hope to cling on to.
The standout moment on the album for me comes on All the Beds I’ve Made. Bowen sounds absolutely beautiful on the romantic ballad and she’s joined by her husband Brandon Young. It’s a gorgeous moment and shows that Bowen needs very little instrumentation behind her stunning voice. Another highlight is album closer Warrior, a song that Bowen dedicates to the children she grew up alongside while battling cancer as a child. It’s an emotive end to a record full of optimism, hope and gorgeous songs.
There isn’t a bad song on this debut album. Bowen operates in her own lane and it’s nice to see her forging her own path. It would have been so easy for her to just repeat the sound her Nashville character had but instead she creates her own sound. No one else in music sounds like Bowen and the combination of strength and fragility in her voice, is her secret weapon. Bowen will be here in September for her first headline tour and it’s going to be the first chance that fans have to really see who she is as an artist. This record suggests she’s pretty incredible.
Track list: 1. Let It Rain 2. Doors & Corridors 3. Tide Rolls In 4. Aves’ Song 5. All the Beds I’ve Made 6. Lullabye 7. Sweet William 8. Lijah & the Shadow 9. Little by Little 10. Grace of God & You 11. Warrior Released by: BMG Release date: 31st August 2018