Josienne Clarke shares new single
‘Driving At Night’
New EP I Promised You Light is due out
When award-winning singer, songwriter and producer Josienne Clarke was performing at a show prior to lockdown, a moment meeting a fan afterwards remained fixed in her memory. “There was this one woman who came up to me at the merch table in tears. She was a fan pleading with me to write something in the style of how I write, but more positive,” Clarke recalls, saying that while the fan had been visibly touched by her emotive, melancholic songs, she was craving something more joyous. The fan told Clarke she was going through her own difficult time. “She wanted something with hope, something with a bit of light in it,” Clarke recalls.
This is where Clarke’s new EP, I Promised You Light was born. After the release of her critically acclaimed album A Small Unknowable Thing earlier this year (which earned four-star reviews from the likes of The Financial Times and MOJO), Clarke set about her next project with the words of her fan front-and-centre. “It stayed with me,” Clarke says of her message. “It made me really think: do I need to try and frame things more positively? Maybe I haven’t been able to in the past because I’m still working through things – my work is very autobiographical and cathartic – but I’m only now just finding more positive threads through new experiences and what I’ve learned over this last year.”
Clarke has certainly worked through a lot. Rejecting the male-dominated system, in 2020 Clarke ripped everything up and started again. She went solo and for the first time she was in complete control of everything from her songwriting to arranging and production – and she even released on her own label, Corduroy Punk. The result, after years of being told women couldn’t do all those things in a patriarchal industry, was an album variously described as “the sound of an artist in full bloom”, “a remarkable, impeccable collection” and “her finest work to date.” The experience gave her confidence to try a new direction on her latest EP.
Lead single, ‘Driving At Night’, saw Clarke going directly back to a time she lost her own way. “It’s essentially a song about escaping,” Clarke says, explaining it was about driving away from the last ever gig she performed as part of a duo at the interval. “I literally drove for hours across Europe. I wanted as much physical space between me and my previous career as possible at that point. The feeling of release of having finished that final gig was huge, as was the exciting air of possibility that came about having left behind a thing that was so difficult for me for a long time. It was like a literal lift: I felt everything would suddenly be easier now.” The song’s message, she says, is simple: “it’s – just leave,” she laughs. “It’s alright to leave because all this other great stuff awaits you if you just walk away.”
Clarke’s vocal notes ooze such clarity and charisma from the first introduction to the lyrics which weave across the alluring atmosphere gently crafted for the new arrangement. The placement of the vocals soaring above the harmonic passages, it simply consumes the audience, especially with the power of the clear message of the track. Throughout the journey, at only 2 minutes 26 seconds, remarkably due to the earnestness of the artist, the voyage feels longer, a nod to the impressive instrumentation leading the intensive exploration deep into the complex route. The cadence of sweeping notes and the surging cymbals all collide to provide this alluring ambiance, the rhythmic riffs, and the choice of tone all add to the addictive qualities found in the aura, but it’s the tender vocal tones that drive the emotion.
The EP’s recording took place over a four-day period in London, where, for the first time since lockdown, Clarke was able to get into Hackney Road Studios in London with her band. Clarke says after producing her last record virtually from afar, she went into this feeling more certain. “I was more confident this time because I’d done it before and it worked. I felt able to experiment more and just getting to work in a room with other musicians again after lockdown buoyed me further I think…I’d missed that!” Clarke says laying the EP down in the studio was the culmination of what was “an incredible, joyous project, from start to end.” She continues: “I’ve probably enjoyed writing this one more than anything I’ve done.”
‘Driving At Night’ is available to stream and download now with I Promised You Light set to follow in the new year.