QUICK TAKES: SF alum Claire George debuts solo EP at Cafe Du Nord

Claire George, Heartwatch

Claire George

SAN FRANCISCO — Former Heartwatch frontwoman Claire George may now call Los Angeles home, but she still chose San Francisco’s Cafe Du Nord on Friday to debut her first EP as a solo singer-songwriter-producer, titled Bodies of Water.

George, who had already released three contemplative singles from the EP, including “Orbits,” played the five-track record in full, included some other songs and threw in a cover for good measure. She opened with single and “Where Do You Go?” and transitioned to very danceable club song “I Promise.”

The biggest takeaway from her 45-minute set was the new direction her music is taking following more than a year away from her former band. For George, the production is as important as the rest of the songs. She’s spent the last three years learning production techniques, and it showed with songs that diverged into not just bedroom pop but R&B and even a couple of club cuts.

Most of the songs gave her voice a chance to spread out and breathe. George sang in either a higher or lower register than her past material with Heartwatch; higher over sparser arrangements. When she went lower, George would sing with a slight vibrato that resembled singer-songwriter LP. She initiated the songs from two control units, but also strummed a guitar on “Your Wind.”

“I didn’t think anyone was gonna come today,” George said toward the end of her set. “I have cried so many times today—tears of joy.”

The biggest surprise of the night came in the form of a somber, funereal cover of The Cranberries’ “No Need to Argue.” The set included “Lonely Or Alone,” “Overwatered” and “Second Guesses,” which closed out the show.

Claire George will release Bodies of Water Nov. 16 on Cascine Records. Electronic musicians Natasha Kmeto and ZOLA opened the show.

Here’s what Vic Silva said about George’s first single: “George’s intrinsic ambition has caused her to approach music like an athlete training for a marathon, adhering to a harsh songwriting regimen. Although this may have proved both physically and emotionally trying at times … [she] can take pride in her development. ‘Where Do You Go?’ combines the early work of The 1975 with Lykke Li’s vocal range. Its ethereal fairy-like vibe drives reverb-soaked electronics to a stunning culmination. Although George’s solo work may be new to the indie genre, the Heartwatch frontwoman’s enticing music is sure to turn heads.”

And here’s what Max Heilman thought of her second single, “Orbits:” “Supported by a stark half-time shuffle, [her] angelic vocals hang forlornly on a tapestry of shimmering synths. ‘Orbits’ reaches celestial heights seemingly out of nowhere, given how minimalist it sounds at the start. … The contrast between staccato rhythms and flowing modulations gives this song a unique feel, but it’s obviously a product of real songwriting chops. Her vision expands beyond the production, maintaining a connection to human emotion and memorable melody.

Stereogum premiered a third single earlier this week.

Follow Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter

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