Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
A considerable and extensive overhaul to the part of the head that keeps track of where it is at all times - decade-speaking, not in terms of mental welfare or in matters of rage or cool - when Clare Manchon enters a room with her voice and songs. Suddenly, and this is within seconds of any Clare and the Reasons song, your head stumbles into a damn dirty bout of amnesia where all it remembers are the vivid images from back during the years during and just following the great war, the big one, whether or not there was any sense or authority for the head to even have memories of so long ago.
We go back into that time period because isn't there something very magical about considering a time when most of what the record shows are black and white images - photographs and moving pictures - when there were colors out there to be had and visually slurped up just as there are today, but they were kept from us by technological limitations. It's as if those colors were lost - absolutely ephemeral - only enjoyed by those who were there and saw the greens and khakis and cherry reds of lipsticks. Manchon does something with her music that almost makes it seem like those colors and their warm regards, if not their vintage luster and authenticity, are renewed and brought back to life. She seems to work with them, telling them, "I've got some people I'd like you to meet, but let's get you dressed up. It's gonna be kinda fancy. We're all gonna have a ball, I promise. There's nothing these modern types love more than to meet old colors from long ago." It's a quick transformation into only thinking, "Yeah, that's a good question: where was I the day JFK was assassinated? Same goes for Martin and Bobby. And yeah, I do remember watching The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show that first time, very well. Those were the days." That's us doing that, even if we were nowhere close to living through those years, seeing them only in videos archived by Time Life.
These are not repurposed scenes and colors, but ones newly constructed that feel as if they are genuinely weathered and sweetly sanguine. Her beautiful voice has a retro treatment to it that makes it feel like poodle skirts and sugar rations, family values, freshly cut apples cooking in a pie and the poses of Bettie Page. She sings, "I loved you when I was a waitress," and it's not possible to think of her eating in an Chili's, much less serving baby back ribs and fajitas in one. It's only reasonable to picture her in a form-fitting, pastel-colored waitress outfit, wearing nurse-approved shoes and working at a greasy spoon or shining a bright, tip-earning smile as a carhop at some drive-in eatery and skating up to windows with root beer floats and onion rings. She sings of her junkbox of a car, of the denouncement of Pluto as anything more than a dwarf, but she gives all of her subject matter this splash of paint that can't be mistaken for anything from this era, but of that from the old soda pop parlors and issues of Look and the Saturday Evening Post. Man, it's all there in the music.
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Frog Stand Records