Josienne Clarke shares new single ‘The Birds’
Watch / share ‘The Birds’ here
Onliness (songs of solitude & singularity)
is due out on April 14th, 2023 via Corduroy Punk
Today, indie-folk artist Josienne Clarke has shared the second taste of her forthcoming new album, Onliness. On her new album, due out on April 14th, Clarke revisits songs from her back catalogue that felt buried somehow; that had never had the spotlight she felt they deserved. Originally written back in 2008, the song first appeared on and opened Clarke’s first ever solo album One Light Is Gone.
Of her new single, Clarke says:
“It’s about the turning of a season, the first frost of winter. The birds are making strange patterns in the sky, a signal that our days will soon be short. This version features a specific blurry guitar part, I wrote it like that to mirror the blurry movement of the birds in their weird patterns, in and out of time and sync in strange shapes and formations. I also play piano on this track which is pretty rare for me. I love it as an instrument, it’s bright glassy timbre fitted perfectly for the track. I rarely play it on my music as I have the services of keyboard experts like Matt Robinson but I recorded the piano myself just to give an idea of the kind of part I was thinking and Matt liked it and said we should keep mine, so we did.”
In her own words, Josienne Clarke viewed her 2021 album – A Small Unknowable Thing – as a leap into the abyss. Finally free from the industry structure that had been built around her over the preceding decade and more, she released the album via her own label, Corduroy Punk Records. Free from her previous role as one-half of a duo and losing the genre constraints she was quickly and lazily placed within, she came out of that chapter emboldened – but still not truly free.
From her home on Scotland’s Isle of Bute, Josienne began thinking about the idea of reclamation. Cutting her teeth in an industry that so often works against the artist it’s supposed to support – and with a lingering idea in the wake of Taylor Swift’s ‘Taylor’s Version’ project – Josienne began revisiting the songs in her back catalogue that felt buried somehow; that had never had the spotlight she felt they deserved, for myriad reasons.
Onliness is both a wholesome project and a spellbinding work in its own right. Opening with one of her earliest compositions – ‘The Tangled Tree’ – and closed by a brand-new song, it presents a career retrospective viewed through a new lens. The album is comprised of reworked versions of fan favourites and hidden gems from a back catalogue that always glimmered, but this time they’re entirely hers, carrying everything from booming drums to intimate acoustic guitars, with Josienne’s powerful yet, at times, fragile voice whispering and screaming straight into the listeners ear.
“It’s a mixture of songs that were singles, that I wanted to reclaim in some way, and then other songs, some really great songs, that never got the attention I think they deserved,” Josienne explains. “Artists are constantly required to create new content, this content is consumed in the short term and forgotten about,” she continues, speaking of her other motivation for the record. “When a big label owns the masters of your songs forever you earn little to nothing from those recordings, it’s not surprising that an artist would have to explore re-recording from a financial standpoint alone. I’ve found that it’s no longer financially viable for me not to revisit material, even being a prolific songwriter it’s just not sustainable for me in the long term.”
Throughout the process, Josienne was clear that she wanted the album to work on its own terms, that it could stand tall as a brand new chapter even to those unfamiliar with the initial recordings. She also wanted to approach each new recording as a singular exercise, to follow the instincts that she’s honed over the past few years, adding synths, electric guitars and found sounds to the recordings. “Great songs can wear a variety of interpretations and perhaps the idea of one definitive recording is a bit rigid and reductive,” she says. “Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy has been revisiting his own songs, reworking and re-presenting them wonderfully over and again throughout his career. Anais Mitchell’s XOA is on constant rotation in my house and I love the reframing of songs I know from her other projects in that stripped back simplified setting. So it’s not a new idea, or one that’s exclusive to me, but it’s a much more creative endeavour with much more for the listener to gain than a consumerist driven ‘best of’ compilation.”
Onliness is a striking collection of songs, a real overview of an artist who has beautifully traversed their own path, no matter how rocky it became. The album takes its title from a word Josienne thought she’d invented, only later to find it already exists. Onliness: the fact or condition of being alone. “It means both solitude and singularity; being one of a kind, but also alone in the sense that you are apart from other things,” Josienne says of the title’s meaning. “So, it has both a positive connotation and a really melancholic one – and I feel like that fits every song that I’ve ever written.”
The Tangled Tree
Only Me Only
It Would Not Be A Rose
Things I Didn’t Need
Bathed In Light
Anyone But Me
I Never Learned French
Words Were Never The Answer
Pre-order link: ffm.to/onliness