Clara Tracey‘s magnetic debut album Black Forest will be released for the first time on vinyl on 12th June 2023. Described as one of the “finest releases” of the year by RTE Arena, this album is an elevated, intimate glimpse into her magic realist world where women reign, stained glass masterpieces come to life and fantasies are playfully erotic. To celebrate the physical release, Clara will be doing a tour of Ireland and the UK featuring performances at the Workman’s Cellar in Dublin, Jumbo Records Leeds and Rough Trade West in London on 8th, 10th and 14th June respectively as well a a support slot with Pigeon at the Shacklewell Arms, London, on 15th June.
Now is the perfect opportunity to get on board with this enthralling alt-pop act as their star soars.
A genre-bending album, with superlative vocal range, Black Forest infuses jazz with French nouveau pop, bringing “a libertarian, feminist and theatrical slant” (The Irish Times) to both her melodies and lyrics. Infused with a sense of sexual liberation that can be attributed to the decade she spent living in Paris in the posthumous company of Colette, Anaïs Nin and Angela Carter, Clara deliberately provokes her nineties Catholic upbringing in Northern Ireland and the sense of repression that for some, is still palpable there. There is an ethereal elegance to her work.
Now residing in Dublin, the Fermanagh-born artist first fell in love with the piano at a young age. Her music career took a detour while she studied Law and French in Belfast and it was only after moving to France and experiencing life in a Parisian law firm, that she submerged herself in a more artistic lifestyle and started performing in jazz cafes around Paris.
In 2015, she moved back to Dublin, continuing her musical evolution, and has since performed at Electric Picnic, Body & Soul, Another Love Story and the leading Dublin venues under various names and guises, playing with Aoife Nessa Frances, Maija Sofia and Paddy Hanna. Clara has also toured internationally, playing solo shows in Montreal, Paris, London and New York.
The spellbinding Black Forest, was produced by Daniel Fox (Gilla Band) and was recorded between lockdowns at Sonic Studios, Stoneybatter and is the culmination of years of experimentation and expansion in her writing. It was released in October 2022 ahead of the vinyl drop in June 2023. Her soundscapes and lyrics draw subtle cues from the erotic heroes and heroines of French chanson and literature, from Gainsbourg and Birkin to Colette and Despentes.
Tracks like ‘ Soap Girls’ recall her time in Paris, laced with jazz fused organs and rich, lush vocals. Tracey said, “Soap Girls is inspired by a summer’s afternoon in the bath in Paris with my friend Noémie. She decided to take some pictures and while living in Dublin about seven years later I came across the old photographs and realised we were Soap Girls! To celebrate the ten-year anniversary of our friendship we decided to organise a reunion in Paris and shot an impromptu video in the bath .. immortalising our Soap Girl status.”
The visual world of the album is made up of direct references to Irish art deco stained glass window painter, Harry Clarke, together with Georgia O’Keefe’s suggestive florals in ‘Strange Flowers‘ and Jane Birkin’s androgynous sixties style. When Salvatore of Lucan offered to paint the album cover, her Harry Clarke lyric and “painted lady” aspirations came true in three sittings. See the stunningly raw piece below:
Recording between lockdowns meant there was no access to high fidelity piano takes so serendipitously, the organs and synths on the album took on more of a 70s/90s Gainsbourg meets Stereolab vibe.
‘Black Forest’ will be released on vinyl via Pizza Pizza Records on 12th June accompanied by a whirlwind tour of Ireland and the UK.
Catch Clara Tracey live while you can:
8th – The Workman’s Cellar, Dublin
10th – Jumbo Records, Leeds (In-store)
14th – Rough Trade West, London (In-store)
15th- Shacklewell Arms, London (Opening for Pigeon)
Listen to Clara Tracey here: