Claude‘s debut album, a lot’s gonna change, is out tomorrow on American Dreams Records.
Your twenties should be exciting – or at least they’re supposed to be. People concoct these grand visions of finishing college, getting their first jobs, moving out on their own, exploring the ups and downs of life on their own terms, and so much more. Entire cottage industries of novels, films, and television shows have been created about all of the shenanigans that occur during this decade of life. Sure, the characters experience heartache, and not every scheme is successful, but for the most part, everyone ultimately enjoys the bright lights as they pursue their big dreams.
But what happens when various socioeconomic forces make it difficult to imagine such a decade? When the idea of getting by in a decent-sized city on a single job is nigh onto impossible? When the combination of student loan debt, overpriced housing, rising healthcare costs, environmental catastrophe, and a global pandemic make it very difficult to be optimistic about nearly anything? What happens in your twenties in that scenario?
The artistic nom de plume of Claudia Ferme, this Chicago-born artist creates hooky, thoughtful pop music that is unafraid to ask hard questions. Entitled a lot’s gonna change, her debut full-length contains eight elegant tunes that combine the aesthetic of Goldfrapp, Cat Power, and Mazzy Star with breathtaking ease. The album features aching, searching lyrics atop dream vibes and chill grooves that carefully mask a subtle edge and angst.
Think of it as immaculate trip-hop filtered through a ‘70s pop pastiche. Claude’s sultry, yet spectral alto pairs well with the deft syncopation of the relaxed drum rhythms. From there, the synth bass delivers sublime melodic phrasing that undergird the arrangements while the crisp guitar work offers essential textural crunch. The overall clean production allows the instrumentation to showcase the vocals while never sounding antiseptic or anhedonic. Even when a song becomes hushed and processed, her heart still peeks through.
Serving as the album opener and lead single, “twenty something” channels lush French pop motifs, from the muted horns and Wurlitzer keyboard run to soft drums and jazzy guitar chords. With “what you’re on tonight,” we’re treated to a delightful tune about importance of going out with friends for a night of frivolity, no matter what else is happening in life. Built upon twin pillars of liquid bass runs and airy synth phrases, the tune showcases Claude’s penchant for understated sensuality that never overstays its welcome. My favorite song on the album, “meet me” embodies this powerful yet reserved mood as our singer talks openly her anxiety and longing. Through it all, she knows that her lover will show up in their favorite place exactly when she needs them most.
What makes the music of Claude so refreshing is her rejection of filters and poetic framing to express how she feels. As an album, a lot’s gonna change serves up new-school kitchen-sink torch songs about young love, loneliness, and sociocultural malaise with the keyboard as the lead instrument. The lyrical material appears to be drawn directly from a journal or diary without any reinterpretation or fresh contextualization. She delivers her earnest and authentic recollections of young adulthood with bracing honesty, no matter the consequences.
Sure, people might still want their twenties to be packed with all manner of terrific activities that will provide wonderful memories as they age, but sometimes you need to appreciate art that doesn’t indulge such hollow pursuits. With Claude, you know exactly where you stand so you can determine the next steps you need to take for your present and your future. It’s easy to set aside clunky metaphors and guarded thoughts when you can sing about your pain with such open-souled honesty.