Not many artists could combine a Vietnamese single-stringed instrument called a Dan Bau, a section of Cellos, Llama’s toenails, French Horn and six rusty Gongs, with a tale of relationship foibles as beautifully as Clare Bowditch does on the track “Peccadilloes”. No wonder it was runner up in the International Songwriting Competition in the singer/songwriter category judged by Tom Waits, Robert Smith and Jerry Lee Lewis amongst a slew of other notables.
But it wasn’t a one-off. What about the swaggering mishmash of Sax, African Balafon and Piano on “Your Other Hand”? Or the meditative amalgamation of Hammond, Indian Tambura and Vietnamese Dan Tranh of “People Like Me, People Like You”?
After studying ethnomusicology as part of her creative arts course in Melbourne and Vancouver, Clare set about combining her love of acoustic instruments the world over, her uncanny knack for melody and a insightful narrative sensibility into an enchanting indie-pop setting.
The album Autumn Bone was her first creation which attracted much attention from community radio in her homeland of Australia with such dark pop moments as “Human Being” which utilized a host of her musician friends from great Australian bands such as Machine Translations, Sodastream and Art of Fighting. The scene was set.
Next up was an album based around the themes of grief and loss entitled “What Was Left”. As gloomy as the topic sounds, the album never strays too far into pessimism exemplified by the lyric “The thing about grief is, few people know if the i goes before the e”. The head of EMI in Australia, John O’Donnell, loved it so much he offered a fantastic licensing deal which opened up the channels for Clare to take her music to a much larger audience and she ended up winning one of Australia’s highest musical honours, Best Female Artist at the 2006 ARIA awards.
In 2007 Clare released the “Moon Looked On” a collection of tales centered on the themes of lust and desire which included the mesmerizing single “When the Lights Went Down”. It is the pinnacle of Clares thematic songwriting so far, with an uncanny ability to tell stories as achingly personal as they are beautiful and joyous.
After exploring the world via instruments, Clare is letting her instruments allow her to explore the world, with a tour of Europe and the UK, then setting up shop in Berlin, before recording a new album early next year.