Posts Tagged ‘Diane Jean’

clever girls constellations album art

Burlington, Vermont’s Clever Girls, the indie-rock songwriting project of Diane Jean, waited a long while to release their second album “Constellations”. They started writing the record in early 2018, before they’d even finished recording their debut, Luck, and after Jean had come out as queer and gender-nonconforming. These songs find the songwriter working towards personal autonomy and acceptance, and surround their unflinching emotional journey with versatile, always-compelling guitars and dynamic arrangements that keep the listener off balance, unsure of what’s around the corner of the next measure. Constellations is music for those who look inside themselves and are unsure of what it is they see, but refuse to turn away. 

Clever Girls’ Diane Jean does more than just sing about their issues, they make you feel them viscerally. In order to capture the exhaustion and frustration that people assigned-female-at-birth can feel in relationships because of societal expectations, they recorded the vocals to “Stonewall”  the moment they woke up. Scratchy-throated and weary, they were still wrapped in a sleeping bag after spending the night in the studio. This kind of commitment is a big part of what makes Clever Girls’ second full-length LP, “Constellations”, so compelling.

Clever Girls are a Vermont-based quartet Diane and their bandmates prove to be fluent in a myriad of sounds throughout the record. Opener “Come Clean” shifts from a hushed indie lullaby to a noise rock cacophony in jarring fashion. “Remember Pluto” is blissful and beachy, recalling bands like Alvvays and Fazerdaze. The closing track “Fried” even has an IDM quality thanks to its thumping beat and oscillating guitar.

There’s a looseness through Constellations that makes the album especially inviting — you get the sense that the takes used were chosen more for emotional resonance than technical perfection. After all, it was pandemic isolation that inspired the tremendous sense of longing on lead single “Baby Blue.” The record as a whole was partly inspired by Diane’s encounter with the Major Arcana Tower tarot card, a symbol of tumultuous change and personal revelations, and the twin feelings of optimism and unease course through each track.

The songs on Vermont indie rock outfit Clever Girls’ sophomore album, “Constellations” via Egghunt Records will make you feel big and brave even when bandleader Diane Jean sings about feeling small and scared, which is often.

“I think the funny thing about song writing for me is that it’s the sphere of my life where—I don’t think of myself as a dishonest person, but it’s just where honesty comes most naturally to me,” Jean recently said over the phone. “So I carry guilt or shame or fear or love around—all of those big, big emotions—and they come to light first in song writing for me, which is always fun and always surprising.”

In Constellations, Jean navigates those big emotions through vivid song writing and layered, swirling instrumentation. The New Jersey-born singer-songwriter and guitarist wrote the record between 2018 and 2020, with most of the songs taking shape around the time they came out as queer and nonbinary. The final product is self-probing and celestial, tender and intense. “There is so much experimenting going on [in this record],” says Jean. “What I want to say is that it really came from a place of self-discovery.”

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Songs written by Diane Jean and Clever Girls

Clever Girls, “Constellations” Due March 26th

The song writing project of Diane Jean, Clever Girls have subsequently expanded into a four-piece band, based out of Burlington, Vermont. Signed to Egghunt Records, the band have recently announced details of their latest album, “Constellations”, the follow-up to their 2018 debut, Luck. With the album due in March, Clever Girls recently shared the first taste of the record, in the shape of new single, “Baby Blue“.

Like much of Constellations, Baby Blue actually predates the release of Luck, much of the album was written years back when front-person Diane first came-out as a gender-nonconforming person. The album tackles all the complex emotions that come with announcing that to the world, and learning to commit to your own happiness. Discussing Baby Blue, Diane has suggested the track has taken on a new meaning during the current pandemic, focusing in on the isolation Diane felt while stuck inside with only their trusty cat Hank for company, “it was exactly the type of experience that the song was born out of in the first place. The feeling of being isolated, and cut off from the world even when it was still turning“. Musically, Baby Blue has a lush, textural quality and the bristling, 1980’s inspired guitar line, and prominent bass sit in perfect contrast to Diane’s light, dextrous vocal delivery.

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Ultimately for all the talk of isolation and loneliness, there’s a sense of euphoria running through the music of Clever Girls, a feeling of coming through the dark time and learning to find delight in the possibility of the light; less a record of feeling alone and more one of learning not to, this is the sound of a songwriter growing into their role and moving their music to a thrilling new place.

When Clever Girls began writing Constellations, it was early in 2018 and they had not yet finished recording what would become their first full length album, Luck. Constellations was primarily an album written between weeks of tour dates, at the height of exhaustion, and amidst self-discovery. Having just come out of the closet as a queer and gender-nonconforming person, one can find the album set in both front-person Diane Jean’s fantasies, as well as the intimate and impressionistic frontier of their every-day personal life. It is an album about a self-corrected second coming of age that was born in the corners of science fiction and projected onto the walls of Jean’s bedroom. Constellations speaks to Jean’s desire for both personal autonomy that they have not yet experienced, but further, the growth often gained in young adulthood that as a closeted queer person, was lost on them.

Songs written by Diane Jean and Clever Girls

Releases March 26th, 2021