With the UK spewing forth preternaturally talented female singer songwriters on an almost weekly basis, you’d expect some competition between the ladies jostling for the spotlight.
On the contrary, insisted newcomer Clare Maguire, who’s just released her stunning debut album Light After Dark and counts contemporaries Paloma Faith, Marina Diamandis (of Marina and the Diamonds) and Ellie Goulding as friends.
Maguire’s own sound is a beguiling halfway point between the orchestral drama of Florence and the Machine and the ’90s power balladry of Annie Lennox. But she told the Star Observer she’d made a conscious effort to cast her musical influences aside when making Light After Dark.
“I wasn’t particularly influenced by anyone on the record. I was so focused on making it as honest and unique as possible, so I tried not to listen to other musicians in order to create something new,” she said.
“Although with the Celtic tones in my voice, I can understand that people would notice the Annie Lennox and Kate Bush influences. But all sorts of music inspires me — from Mozart to the Spice Girls.”
And what about that voice, such an unexpectedly deep and powerful instrument for an otherwise unassuming 23-year-old?
“It’s always been there, and it’s always been quite big and loud. I remember singing for the first time in a school play when I was about six, and all the parents looking at each other thinking, ‘Jesus’, ” she chuckled.
Light After Dark is led by debut single The Last Dance, a song that sounds like an earnest tribute to a lost friend or lover (“Wasn’t ready to lose you/ You’re the first man to move me”), but which Maguire explained was actually about her idol Michael Jackson.
“When he was passed away I was very shocked. At first I couldn’t believe it, so I got on the internet and ended up reading a lot of really horrible comments. I was sitting in my studio feeling quite emotional and the song just poured out — it all happened very quickly.
“I really pushed for it to be the first single, it’s such an emotional uplifting song.”
While an Australian visit is being pencilled in for later this year, Maguire said she planned to keep fans happy until then by peppering her Facebook page with a collection of unreleased demos.
Those that have surfaced so far, coupled with the knowledge that she worked with electro mastermind Richard X on tracks that didn’t make the album, suggest that Maguire’s sitting on some interesting electronic songs that wouldn’t have fit the orchestral feel of Light After Dark.
“I am. And I’ll be working with Richard again, because I think it’ll be really important with the next record to showcase my electronic side a bit more.”
Hang on — her debut album was released only a fortnight ago, and she’s already planning the next one?
“Oh, I always do though. I’m never focused on now, my head’s always six months in the future!”
info: Light After Dark (Universal) out now.