Release Date: May 27, 2016
Record label: Virgin EMI
The commercial shine of 2011’s Light After Dark has tarnished over time with the revelation that the singer-songwriter was deeply unhappy with the musical direction that drove its success. That it’s taken her over half a decade to release her second album speaks volumes. It’s a more raw, but somehow warmer, set that shows why that first pairing with the brilliant pop producer Fraser T Smith ultimately proved so painful.
At the turn of the decade, Clare Maguire was loudly touted as the heir to Amy Winehouse and Adele, and courted by the likes of Jay Z and Rick Rubin. Her debut album, however, turned out to be a collection of characterless power ballads, and the buzz faded. Now she has returned with the record she probably should have made in the first place: a collection of classy, retro pop that showcases her chameleonic voice.
Those with good memories might remember Clare Maguire from the new artist tipping season circa 2010-11, where the lungy Birmingham singer was marketed as a cut-price Florence Welch. Epic fail: bad reviews and so-so chart placings followed. Maguire turned to drink. After rehab, a change of label and adoption by the fashion set, she has gone back to basics, with a set of retro-inspired songs that don’t, frankly, refashion the wheel, but boast a certain tremulous, lived-and-loved appeal.