Toronto’s Clara Engel slipped into our world last year during the Christmas period. Amid the lockdown here in the U.K., not to mention the horrendously bitter weather, A New Skin was like the security blanket one needs to get through such times.
A strong advocate of the Bandcamp platform and constantly kicking against the trends of the new world of mass digital streaming services (as talked about during our interview earlier this year), Engel returns in 2021, following up last year’s double-whammy of A New Skin and Hatching Under the Stars with Dressed in Borrowed Light.
Sonically, Dressed in Borrowed Light isn’t far removed from its predecessor, with Engel’s employment of the cigar box guitar – an instrument born in lockdown – serving the songwriter very well indeed.
Thematically, much of Dressed in Borrowed Light takes its cue from A New Skin, as well, with animals and nature featuring prominently throughout this dream state (Yesterday We Lived Forever, Pomegranate Seeds).
Engel does manoeuvre in this space, however, and there’s no better example than the slow-motion folk number, In a Bed of Snow; easily one of the darkest passages Engel has taken us through over these past two years (“Bed of burning rotting roses”, and “Faraway fields forever burning”).
The album finishes as strong as it starts, with highlight, Heart of Rags; a blissed out celestial folk waltz, while Silver Scythe rounds out this collection of songs beautifully, feeling like a companion piece to A New Skin’s The Garden is Sleeping. Both Heart of Rags and Silver Scythe encompass the album perfectly, which subconsciously dovetails with A New Skin – the pair culminating in a serene journey to explore back to back.
One of the finest artists to appear on our radar since Sun 13’s inception, Engel’s music should be reaching far more ears. For those already immersed in Engel’s celestial sound world, however, and it’s one listeners wouldn’t wish to escape and on Dressed in Borrowed Light, this very much continues.
Dressed in Borrowed Light is out now. Purchase from Bandcamp.