Wants, needs & wonder — the limitless worlds of Claire Morales
Claire Morales is one of the most prolific DIY pop stars of Denton, TX (and far beyond). From works with collaborator Jena Pyle in Sundae Crush, Saudade Sisters and more; the artist gifts us with their most prolific solo work to date with the album All That Wanting. The full-length draws inspirations from the places where the twentieth and twenty-first century arts collide together in a cataclysmic clash where the conceits of genre and style dissolve into the ether of a synthesis that extends beyond constructs and conventions.
The title opener exemplifies this principle of blurring the analogous aspects of rock eras into an epic shred fest that is destined for the ages. Serving as a lesson on the perfect way to launch the opening of any album (conceptual or otherwise); Morales salutes the holistic folk pop champion Sibylle Baier on the transfixing and transportive song that shares the artist's namesake, right before switching back into the high guitar gear of "No Telling", that leads you to the temples of “Diana” parts I & II that serves as a pop couplet that builds toward celestial palaces of pure, burning brilliance and unlimited empowerment. Claire crafts an entire universe complete with atmospheric arrangements, timeless deliveries and progressions that create an organic terroir of aesthetic earth. "Golden" shines in accordance to Morale's knack for shaping minerals of ore, standing strong in the mantra of "Enough", to updating the Helen Reddy roar to something more ferocious on the crown claiming "Lioness". Claire sends the audience up on a magnificent send-off with the mighty fantasia pop arts of "Wildest Dreams", right before the entire record jets off into the vast expanses of the galaxy with the shimmer and glow of "New Star".
Claire Morales shared insights into all the needs, wants and psychic inspirations that informed All That Wanting:
Between my first and second albums, I started asking myself why we make art. I was working a 50-60 hour a week job at the time and was still making music when I got home. I was exhausted, it seemed crazy to be living this, but I couldn't stop. I wasn't sure what was keeping me going, but there was something unmovable behind it all, some vague force that I couldn't help but feed. As these thoughts were running through my head, I began to notice a common thread flowing through all of life: desire. The silent motivator behind our actions, the reason we do everything that we do. Desire can destroy us if we let it, or it can move us forward. It can be fought or embraced, given into or denied. I felt like I had stumbled upon a force both ancient and eternal, a forgotten secret hidden in plain sight.
Around this time, I heard the This American Life about testosterone, the hormone of desire as Ira Glass puts it. The first act of the episode is about a man who suddenly has no testosterone. He navigates life without desire of any kind, not caring what he eats, what he watches, what his days consist of, not wanting anything from the world at all. He describes a strange peace, a feeling that everything is objectively beautiful without want. He also realizes how much of being human is experiencing desire and what a burden it is to always be wanting. The last words of the act are this man exclaiming “all that wanting.”
The phrase stuck with me and I heard it in other places, in different contexts. There was a haunting resonance to it. It began to take on a mythic power for me. I began to imagine desire personified as a nine foot tall golden goddess, bathed in light yet consumed in a void. She beckons you forward, to give into your deepest wants. She was both frightening and irresistible. This image became the album cover.
Visual and sonic art are inseparable for me. When it came to understanding the world of this album, I needed to know what it looked like as much as what it sounded like. Once I found the golden goddess as a central character, the rest of it fell into place. I started writing about muses and myths, things I had heard in stories and imagined in dreams. I started exploring media that felt mythic, everything from Greek myths I loved as a kid to Mad Men to T.S Eliot to Sibylle Baier to Led Zeppelin. I started thinking about desire in my own life and what it meant to me. Desire for love, for success, for control, for eternal life, for sex, for understanding, for food, for money, for freedom. The list kept going and the songs concerned themselves with as many of these things as possible.
The whole album started to feel like a heroine’s journey. There had to be drama, suspense and big sonic shifts to get to the essence of this. There had to be juxtaposition and a little chaos, it needed death and rebirth. Concept was king and creating a world of complexity and contradiction felt more real than one in which everything was the perfectly balanced. I started to feel around for what this could look like with sound.
Genre has always frustrated me because it can be constraining. It can feel like you are in one room, in one place. I wanted this album to be a hotel room with every door revealing a new realm. I tried to let myself write songs that felt thematically sound without too much regard for which musical boxes they fit into. The phrase genre is dead started drumming in my head and it was so freeing. I felt this new power, and I wanted others to feel it too as they were listening, like they could shove off the shackles of convention if that's what they wanted. I wanted people to listen to the music and to feel feel free to be who they are, shameless in their desire. I wanted people to ask themselves what they really want out of life and to not be afraid of the answer.
Claire Morales’ new album All that Wanting will be available June 29.