Unraveling Claire Coupland’s Lonely Heart EP

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Claire Coupland is a Toronto native folk-rock artist whose debut EP “Lonely Heart” is a story-packed, melody-driven collection of seven songs. Love, loss and friendship are some of the themes on this record, themes Coupland takes cracks at with deliberateness. She leaves no stones unturned; she picks apart relationships gone awry, unfulfilled expectations, regrets in that soprano register of hers.

While the EP starts out mellow enough with “Mountain Dream,” “Fallen” and “Tangle and Fray,” featuring country and bluesy accents, tapping into an emotional range that is nuanced and abubble, the midcourse slump track four “Stay” signals causes a shift in mood that counteracts the quiet sensitivity of the opening songs. It seems as though Coupland is turning inward, to a darker place, and it shows sonically. Not that dark isn’t good, but here the untrammeled charging into depths unknown is hard to follow, is too wild, a little jarring perhaps. Coupland is a marvelous artist, that much is certain, and “Lonely Heart” isn’t just a debut EP that contains carefully crafted, tweaked-to-death songs, the beauty of Coupland’s debut effort is found in the outflow of feelings, and however touched one may be by this emotional expenditure, there is no denying the exposed heart and gift of the self. And the exploring is there, it’s in the soaring vocals, the bass riffs and hard-hitting arrangements, it’s in the lyrical density and intricacy, it’s in the releasing of an EP that spells out strength and vulnerability, it’s in the instrumental outbursts and the flashes of relative stillness. It’s all there, a bit scattered perhaps, but then again isn’t life a collection of messy moments?

Claire Coupland’s “Lonely Heart” hinges on the realm of the intimate, and is steeped in heartbreaks and joys, and this can overwhelm, but in the end, one cannot but be in awe of the young woman’s endeavor, this recourse to music to share one’s inner battles.

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