Sarah Clanton releases “Here We Are”
Right now, no matter where you look in the spectrum of pop music, you’re bound to see a lot of changes taking place. It’s not just because we’re lurching towards the end of the 2010s, though that might have a little to do with it. 2018 has seen such a wide ranging emergence of talent in everything from rock to jazz to hip-hop, and it’s because we’re bearing witness to the rise of a new generation of musicians ready to assume control of the future of pop culture as we know it. Sarah Clanton is one of the heavyweights in this burgeoning revolution in audiological conceptualism, and her ironically titled new album Here We Are presents audiences with a picture window into the state of modern pop like none other released in the last year. Fans of Clanton’s early work will notice that she’s retained all of the qualities that garnered her so much attention at the start of her career, but has also made major strides in refining and cultivating her craft to be all that it can be. It’s unquestionably her most accessible and intimately produced album yet, but it also could be the most important record released in the latter half of the decade.
One thing that is immensely obvious when listening to Here We Are’s captivating songs is that Sarah Clanton has the blood of jazz royalty running through her veins. There’s a marked appreciation for the calculated, cerebral essence of jazz that once inspired greats like Sun Ra to compose for days on end without even considering sleep. “Breathe In Breathe Out,” “Can’t Find the Words” and “On Repeat” each boast a litany of eccentrically compiled string and percussive parts that work in tandem like the gears of a well-oiled machine. You could spend days, probably even weeks, analyzing the minimalist details and fascinatingly vivid nuances to behold in Here We Are, which isn’t something that can be said for most records in the pop genre. Clanton is determined to be more than just a pretty face with a cello, and her new album would rightfully be described as a true musician’s masterclass.
All of the tracks in Here We Are come to life before our eyes through the use of imagistic lyrics and gripping musical harmonies that seem to reach through our speakers and demand a reaction from us. It’s more than evident that these songs have a very close and personal nature to them, but in a lot of ways I feel like Sarah Clanton is singing about much more than her own perspectives on life. She’s singing about us and the way that we treat each other; the way we allow ourselves to fall head over heels even when we know that we’re going to get hurt, and how we usually find our greatest strengths when we feel like we’re at our weakest and most in need of another’s help. Her statements are focused and cutting, and the music that accompanies them is jarringly tangible and evocative. Here We Are is the record of the year, and it couldn’t have arrived at a more exciting time in music.