REVIEW: Cari Clara – "Midnight March"

“Singer/Songwriter” is usually used to denote a very specific type of music. Generally speaking, the term was used to describe troubadour folk or acoustic type stuff. Toward the late 70s to early 80s, it also became a term describing soft rock cheese. This tends to be a double edged sword. Eric Diedrichs (the brains behind Cari Clara) very much fits in with the description of singer/songwriter, but the music doesn’t really fall under either designation. Cari Clara is one of those bands that is basically just that one guy. With this exception of some guest musicians on three tracks, this is all Eric Diedrichs.

Midnight March is an enjoyable indie rock record. Borrowing from various sources, it is also remarkably cohesive as a whole. There are a few straight forward indie rock songs, but there is certainly some post-punk and alternative in there. These different styles are melded and held together by Diedrichs’ voice. He has a great voice for this type of thing; sometimes sounding a bit like David Bazan, sometimes sounding a bit like Conor Oberst or James Mercer (sort of). That is pretty sweet, right?

There is something to be said for Eric Diedrichs’ vision. Not only was this his thing as far as vocally and instrumentally, he also produced and engineered the damn thing. That much freedom can come with a few downsides. The biggest being the lack of other voices. For example, “Greater History” jumps back and forth between straight ahead indie rock song and some creepy piano/organ thing. There is a transition between the bits, but it sounds a bit disjointed. If there had been other band members, that might have been different. Had is stayed as the former, it would be great instead of just good. I’m also a little bummed on the sequencing. There doesn’t seem to be a natural rise and fall to this record. You get stoked for a killer, full band song only to have the next song be an acoustic number. It just kind of kills the momentum of the record. This jump to extremes is especially noticeable with “Story In The Stars” and “Homage To Excess.”

But, minor quibbles aside, this is a solid record that is totally worth a listen. This is the fourth Cari Clara release on the mighty Deep Elm, each one has been better than the last. If he can continue this arc, Diedrichs could be on top.

Cari Clara
Deep Elm
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