‘Black Heart,’ the fourth album by Miriam Clancy, comes as another turning point for the US-domiciled artist. Clancy’s previous album, ‘Astronomy’ (2019) was a change in sonic direction, moving towards darker electronica.
This time she has returned to her ’90s influences and has written again on piano and guitar. Clancy’s storytelling here veers between the first and third person, but stays close to the story whether it’s personal or not.
In many places, the lyrics are deeply personal. The aching Velveteen is especially moving, and Clancy lays some demons to rest, confronting her personal trauma and defying it. The album’s introspection extends to learning more about her family – the undeniably sad and eerily beautiful torch song Roelof is about, and for, her uncle who took his own life after the death of his wife in the 1979 Erebus disaster.
The songs on ‘Black Heart’ range from acoustic, delicate songs with almost ghostly lyrics as in the opener Cassowary, to the quiet-loud structure of Kamikaze Angels, which seems a glorious, and very Gen-X, 1990s throwback, but with a chorus that really, really calls for headbanging.
Regardless of style, there is a sense of easiness on ‘Black Heart’ and Clancy’s vocals create a melodic through-line connecting it all together. ‘Black Heart’ could very well be Clancy’s most realised, and ‘produced’ album (it was recorded at Mason Jar Studios in Brooklyn, New York with a crack band of musicians), and stands as a bold artistic statement.