Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss

Clara Engel (WebsiteBandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr) is an independent musician based in Toronto, Canada who has released several EPs and albums and has collaborated with artists from Canada, the UK, Germany, Brazil, Turkey and the US.

Her music cannot be described in a straightforward manner or put into neat categories. She is too exploratory to be deemed mainstream but remains familiar enough to not be termed esoteric. Her influences span music, film, art and literature – to name a few important ones: the American blues singer-songwriter Robert Johnson, the Belgian actor and singer of French pop Jacques Brel, British novelist Virginia Woolf, American independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, the Estonian composer of classical and sacred music Arvo Pärt, the Serbian poet Vasko Popa and the Mexican surrealist painter Leonora Carrington.

Clara combines slow vocals and deep rhythms to create songs that are rich in imagery and metaphors. Her work, though not directly informed by a particular religious belief or spiritual practice, suggests a sincere search for transcendence. Her lyrics often begin by evoking the transient aspects of the human condition and smoothly make a transition into the epic and the eternal.

In praise, the British poet Jeremy Reed has written: “Clara Engel’s voice comes to me from that deepest of all places, imaginative space, from which she visually retrieves an inner landscape converted by breath into the rock equivalent of poetry. Rarely has a voice sounded so authoritative, so unapologetic in its disclosures, so sure of its direction in going home into song.”

 

Clara Engel (Photo by Ilyse Krivel, Make-up and assistance by Stacie Noël)

 

Clara’s latest album Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss (2016) can be sampled below. Read the lyrics to two of her songs “Swans” and “Once A White Owl”.

 

 

Swans
you are carried by swans
over land and sea
nothing moves in the trees
nothing moves beneath
over an oil slick beach
pitch night in nostril and eye
red root of your voice
tears bright tendrils of sky
like a mandrake’s red howl
it’s nearly your name
you are carried beyond
what you were bred to believe
broken glass cuts the road
it moans hoarse and full
it’s nearly your name
you are carried by thieves
of voices and dreams
close a fist on a sunbeam
shower of meteor seeds
fertilizes the dust
a plough runs through the fire
where no flower could grow
we are awakening dust
we are a feast for the birds
by an old dry well
a mandrake’s red howl
tears the heavens in two
see the sky fill with swans

 

Once A White Owl
Once a white owl came down
drank the colour from the world
the sun folded on itself
we couldn’t see our hands
Once a white owl came down
made a nest in your sister’s house
took your father’s eyes
and your mother’s mouth
led you out on a windy ledge
Once a white owl came down
and gave your life another name
play with fire, you can play with shame
my indifference trumps every red card in the game
Once a white owl came down
drank the colour from the world
the sun folded on itself
we couldn’t see our hands
White feathery down dust in your hair
Have you come alone?
You can tell me everything

 

You can enjoy more of Clara Engel’s music here.

 

 

Image Credit:

Featured: Cover for Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss designed by Clara Engel. Used with permission.

 

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