Clare and the Reasons hail from Brooklyn, New York and are led by the husband and wife duo of Clare and Olivier Manchon. Often, Clare writes their songs in the kitchen and then Olivier arranges them out in the living room; and this homey conception is reflected in their comfortable, meticulous pop songs. The “Reason” of the group is Bob Hart, who fleshes out the sounds and records them to wax. What might be the immediate reason to listen to the band though is Clare Manchon’s voice: it’s airy and delicate but also manages to soar. Backed by an array of instruments—violins, acoustic guitar, horns, piano, cello—her voice warmly invites you into the melancholies and mundanities of everyday life and love.
The lushness of the music and vocals renders these accounts of melancholy and heartbreak beautiful though. Clare’s quirky lyrical sensibility combines with thoughtful arrangements of plucked strings, bouncy percussion, and jaunty horns for an equally plucky spirit. Take the song “Pluto,” for instance, in which Clare, backed by plucking violins, consoles the recently demoted Pluto: “Chin up Pluto the stars still want you and we down here do too / you know what to do, just keep on keeping on.” Or consider the song “Ooh You Hurt Me So,” in which Clare croons about being on the receiving end of a painful relationship but manages to be able to whistle about it by the bridge.
Clare and the Reasons have associated themselves with artists who share their musical affinities: Sufjan Stevens, Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond and Van Dyke Parks are past contributors to their records. So far, Clare and the Reasons have two records under their belt, 2007’s The Movie and 2009’s Arrow. Van Dyke Parks has toured with the band several times before, and he joins them again for their fall tour, including their stop at Calvin College. Parks is not only a contributor and tour-mate, but also an enthusiastic fan. He described their music as, “Chamber music with edge. Get this Visa to real musical adventure. Totally transportive!”
- Ben Dixon