Clara Mann finds warmth in boundaries on ‘Go Steady’

Clara Mann has been having a busy year (and a bit). From the release of her 2021 debut EP, Consolations, she went very quickly out on the road – winding her way across Europe with Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear – and now features on the bill of Pitchfork London in November. Her latest track since ‘Thread’ in May, ‘Go Steady’ is another flawless entry to the folk canon – delicate, sincere and warm.

While some of the tracks on Consolations revelled in their stark instrumentation, ‘Go Steady’ finds and exudes warmth in a slightly expanded palette of players. It’s as tastefully decorated as a parlour in a country house but as cosy as a hearth-warmed sitting room in a windswept farmer’s cottage. The piano that sits beneath the trademark undulating guitar is the rug on the floorboards, the drums are the jumper your mum knitted you, and all is bathed in the orange light of a flawless lead vocal.

I remarked back in distant 2021 that Clara Mann’s songs already feel like standards in a folk songbook passed down the generations; it’s there in the beyond-the-years wisdom and deep detectable empathy, and not least in the choice of font on the Consolations EP.  I’d now like to amend this comment to instead posit that Clara Mann’s songs exist purely in a songbook of their own. The hackneyed similes above implies a certain archaism and quaintness, doing a certain disservice to the emotional currency of a track like ‘Go Steady’. Clara Mann’s great strength is in full view on ‘Go Steady’ – woe betide the one who mistakes the intricacy and gentleness of her songwriting for fragility, as ‘Go Steady’ continues to communicate a great power and mastery. The desire for space to breathe at the heart of this track isn’t a plaintive plea, nor is it an ultimatum – it’s a boundary clearly articulated through intoxicating warmth. And at the moment, there’s no one really doing this as well as she is.

Words: Ed Hambly // Photo: Meadow Florence Marks

‘Go Steady’ is out now via 7476. Stream or purchase the track via Bandcamp.

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