Clare Bowditch : The Winter I Chose Happiness
Over the course of her acclaimed career, Clare Bowditch has covered the likes of grief, suffering, lust and addiction. However setting her sights on happiness might just be her most contentious move yet.
In accordance with her newfound calling as life-coach, there is a definite sense that Bowditch is more mentor than mere artist this time around. She sings with a certain self-assurance – Amazing Life and Are You Ready Yet? ranking among the album’s more authoritative tracks. The unfortunate side-effect is a thinly-veiled assertion that Bowditch has her life together, an impression of her self-satisfaction gradually manifesting, which after a while, is a tad grating. The issue here is not her contentment, rather the way in which she carries it: occasionally, The Winter I Chose Happiness wanders into preachy territory.
Pleasingly, it’s difficult to hold much else against The Winter I Chose Happiness, the album a continuation of Bowditch’s impressive form. This time, she’s ditched the Casio keyboards in favour of a loftier, more melodramatic piano-pop approach. Essentially, it’s a gorgeous sounding record. Single Thin Skin exhales triumphantly, driving towards a memorable, spine-tingling climax. Meanwhile, apologetic tear-jerker The One spruiks some quality heartache and, elsewhere, the jaunty Cocky Lady offers a surprising change of pace.
The Winter I Chose Happiness is a consistent affair and resembles yet another intriguing chapter in the context of Bowditch’s career. If you’re not one to begrudge sappy sentimentality and Bowditch’s inadvertent boasts, this is definitely a record worth picking up.
BY NICK MASON
Best Track: Thin Skin
If You Like These, You’ll Like This: Heart That’s Pounding SALLY SELTMANN, Insomnia WASHINGTON
In A Word: Optimistic