CLementine’s Melancholic Folk Concept

kimberly 93 kimberly 93. Tarot Cards. CLementine

Kimberly ’93 is CLementine’s second record and at its core, a melancholic alternative folk concept album. As far as concept albums go, Kimberly ’93’s story is relatively weak but in ways that make the album a more challenging and interesting experience. Some of the narrative slack is thankfully picked up by a dystopian sci-fi story included on the back of the album.

Nathan Daniel’s voice is soft-spoken but rough in tone throughout the record. His raspy and sometimes almost atonal voice, reminds me of Jakob Dylan, Bob’s once famous son and lead singer of the one album wonder The Wallflowers. The eternally emotional cadence of Nathan’s vocal performances on Kimberly ’93 infuse its songs with the purpose and intention that the vaguely poetic lyrics lack.

Don’t get me wrong, Kimberly ’93 is cohesive. Its songs are like clearly connected short stories whose finer plot points mysteriously disappear from your head when the final notes are played. What impresses me most on this record, though, is the subtle intricacy of its instrumentals. On the album’s Bandcamp page the listener is urged to listen to Kimberly ’93 on headphones. I found that listening to it at a slightly louder than normal volume does that trick as well.

Kimberly ’93’s subtle and riveting accents are provided by Chloe Buchskins, in the form of sparse but effective drumming and samples, the former giving songs like Intervening on an Intervention a weight it might not posses otherwise, her subtle samples create a haunting atmosphere. Her ambient electronics matched with Nathan’s confessional vocal style reminds me of Bright Eyes’ experimental electronic explorations. Veering away from that signature song on the epic Madeline, which clocks in at over eight minutes long, makes it easily my favorite song on the record. Its upbeat tempo, fast guitar strumming, loud drums and romantic lyrics give a taste of what Clementine does best, but not nearly enough of, on Kimberly ’93.

As emotive and beautiful as the record is, I do find it drags a little and the album’s few fast-paced songs are used up too early in its sequence. The slower songs might have been more effective if given to the listener all at once, at either the start or close of the record. Nathan is telling a story here, though and I can respect that it comes first. Writing about albums like this one really highlight the bigger problems artists and critics alike or faced when it comes to reviews and I wish I’d had more time to let this one sink in.

Hopefully you pick it up on Bandcamp and give it the time and attention I believe it truly deserves.