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album review: claire london, like a machine

You last heard about Claire London from me in March 2011. It was one of my favorite artist interviews because there is something so special about this performer. Her unique brand of pop-rock quickly separates her from the rest of the pack of singer-songwriters in New York City. On her debut album Like A Machine, we hear a vast series of emotions that reflects not only the observational intelligence of an outsider but also a personal depth that makes London so interestingly accessible.

Released October 11, 2011, shortly after National Mental Health Awareness Week in the US, the album is a holistic representation of who Claire London is as both a singer and an individual – emotional, at times dark, introspective, melodic and talented. Her sound is equally comprised of the intensity of hard rock, the vulnerability of the blues and the powerhouse vocals of a pop superstar. What makes her so special, though, is the way she draws from her own interesting past, including a bout of depression, to shape her music in a way that few other singers can touch. While I was interviewing her, she made it clear that her songs are about topics much removed from the average love song. Like A Machine proves just that.

The first track on Like A Machine, “Diary of A Madwoman” features a kind of jumble of genres – rock, alternative, pop – that matches a larger, darker internal struggle with coming to terms with the past.

The rest of the album follows suit. Lead single “Color Me” and the bluesy “Another Side” are about struggles within relationships that are ending, while title track “Like A Machine” discusses the pressures of dealing with intense depression and anxiety. “What If We Started A Fire” is a personal favorite off the album because its stripped-down acoustic sound is in stark contrast to the heavy production on the rest of the album and really lets both London’s vocals and writing abilities truly shine.

Like A Machine is one of the most special albums I’ve heard this year. While it can take a dark turn or an intense twist here and there, the overall result is catchy, highly personal pop-rock that stays with you long after the album ends. Claire London’s ability to write about her own past makes her unique while her production and sound make her mainstream. Her ambition to take on such intense emotions is matched only by her talent.

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