First, there was Unfinished Business. Then came Better When I’m Drunk, followed by Dead Ends & Detours. Now, Clara Bond joins Katy Hurt, Twinnie, and Kezia Gill respectively in competing for UK Country EP of 2019.
Crown is a sumptuous blend of countrified lyrics and pop sensibility that is shot through with soft rock. This gives the record a much sharper edge than 2016’s Out of Towners, though Clara still wears her heart on her sleeve. Opening track Does Your Girlfriend Know Your Single? is perhaps the best example of this. The funk-filled beats that take their place alongside the straight-talking electric guitar produce a real kick-ass attitude that wonderfully complements her frank and honest storytelling. It is a great choice for a lead song. This is then followed by Baby, You’ve Been On My Mind, a poignant and elegantly-produced number that represents the strongest link to the sound of her last EP.
Her sultry tones have matured since Tambourine et al, however, with an emotive depth that feels more rounded and glossed. It’s a song that’s also been varnished with Nashville-level production, as has next track Pink Wine. There is a fantastic instrumental section in the middle of this song that perfectly illustrates the glorious concoction of synth-laden sounds that create such a fascinating reverb throughout. It is a mesmerising sound which, when combined with Bond’s first-rate lyrical composition, makes for a pretty phantasmagorical track. It stands out from the rest instrumentally for sure, though the title song runs it close.
Crown is a delightful mixture of classic rock and contemporary pop with a nod to country influences. It contains the sumptuous sound of an electric guitar overlaid with powerfully-delivered vocals. It is a great song to round off this four-track EP, which feels like a statement as to the musical direction that Clara wants to pursue in the years to come. As such, Crown is the blossoming of Clara Bond the Maverick, the Outlaw, whose integrity is too strong to allow herself to be boxed in by generic convention. She is determined to carve her own path, to find a sound that is right for her. And if this is it, then she is on a road to a bright future. These are exciting times for Exeter’s finest. Crown cements her place alongside the cream of UK country talent.
Review by Gaz Williams