Known by many as Scarlett O’Connor from the television show ‘Nashville’, Clare Bowen was an artist, creator and performer long before she landed that role.
From her earliest memories, Clare has had a world inside her mind. And her debut, self-titled album (released last week) is her first chance to share it as a complete cosmos, filled with stories, characters and sounds.
As you listen to the record, you realise how her voice is lilting yet strong, her lyrics heartfelt and thought-provoking and her musical skills are exceptional. Therefore it’s no surprise that Clare’s much anticipated and long-awaited debut album is being heralded as a multi-layered masterpiece.
She’s had a long rise to the top, even though it feels like her appearance on our screens was instantaneous.
When asked to describe the album, she answered in a voice that’s oh-so melodic and slightly familiar sounding. “It’s everything that’s on the inside my head. It’s my childhood. It’s my family. It’s the people I love. It’s stories from my life. It’s all the different colours of the rainbow.”
Like a poet reading her work out loud, she continues in a rapid-fire stream. “It’s a dreamscape and it’s going back in time. It’s talking about how we’re all the same, but at the same time also individuals and we have to celebrate both of those things.”
Her passion for inclusiveness is clear, and features strongly throughout the interview. “This album promotes individuality and it promotes togetherness and belonging. It’s about love and hope and fear. And being a human being.”
She explains that if you were to describe it to someone who couldn’t hear, “you would need to paint it. And it would be all the colours of the rainbow. Not leaving out any of the dark spots because they are important too, making sure to highlight that from all of those dark places where you feel hopeless and you feel like there’s no way out – but there always is.
“There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes the most beautiful things come from the most frightening.”
Her self-titled debut was released after being in production for a very long time. “The album took about five and a half years to write,” she explains, “and part of that is because ‘Nashville’ was so all encompassing.
“So I was snatching time between filming, recording, touring, learning instruments, press – everything that’s involved in working on a network television show that involves music. So there wasn’t a lot of time for life outside of the TV show.”
She pauses and adds: “At one point I worried that I was taking too long to make this debut album that everyone was so patiently waiting for. But I realised that I needed that time to find my voice, what my sound was and to make sure that the album was just me.
“The most important thing was that it was true to who I am and reflected me. And that my personality came through.
“That’s why it’s such a personal record and there are so many stories from my life. Not all of them that were easy to talk about but hopefully, in speaking about them, it opens the door for other people to speak about their own experiences or even just being ok with them.”
She is most proud of the fact that all the stories on the album are true. “It’s my life in a little capsule, up to this point.
“It’s stories from my life, it’s stories from the people I love and every single song is unique. Every time I hear these songs, I think of the faces of the people that I wrote them with (most of whom are my best friends).
“The album itself I’m proud of as a whole, but the thing I’m happiest about is people’s response to it.”
She pauses here and goes on to explain. “To see people speaking amongst themselves or maybe opening up about things they mightn’t have talked before or finding common ground with complete strangers because of a song.
“You have people from totally different walks of life who respond to a song for completely different reasons, coming together. That’s what is the most beautiful thing about this album that I’ve witnessed happening.”
Again, she circles back to belonging, connection and community. “It’s making people reach out towards one another and it’s reassuring people that they’re not alone.
“If you can open a door to be able to talk about it, or even just a way to be ok with that experience, that’s what I want to do with my music. I want to make the world better.
“And if I can do that in the tiniest way by making an album with a series of songs that people respond to, and they respond right from their hearts, that’s what I’m proud of.”
Clare is adamant her music isn’t something she keeps for herself, but something to share and continue to share for her entire life. “It isn’t about me, it’s about them and what I can contribute to the world.”
From a beloved television character to sold-out world tours, Clare Bowen has found her place, sprinkling star dust wherever she goes, helping to make the world a little lighter and a lot brighter by sharing herself through song.
Clare Bowen’s self-titled debut album is available now.
Thu 27 Sep – Astor Theatre (Perth)
Clare Bowen Tour Dates
Sat 29 Sep – Wollongong Town Hall
Tue 2 Oct – Enmore Theatre (Sydney)
Wed 3 Oct – The Tivoli Theatre (Brisbane)
Fri 5 Oct – Athenaeum Theatre (Melbourne)