March 7, 2018 | Felix Contreras — Even before The Beatles recorded their own version of “Twist and Shout,” British fascination with American soul music has run deep. Vocalist and songwriter Alex Clare is yet another soul disciple from the UK, and his visit to Bob Boilen’s desk is the perfect setting to bask in the power of his voice.
Clare has made a lot of noise in relatively little time, having released his first album in 2011. For a variety of reasons, he was not able to capitalize on the strength of his debut and lost his record deal — but after Microsoft picked up one of his songs for an international ad campaign, he was soon back in the studio.
The first song in this Tiny Desk performance, “Three Hearts,” is a love song dedicated to the moment he heard the heartbeat of his first child coming from his wife’s sonogram. Backed by a tight four-piece band, Clare’s tale of his family’s road to domestic tranquility captures the joy as well as the uncertainty of impending parenthood. In the song “Caroline,” he inhabits the words with passion and heartfelt pleading, bringing to mind some of the best soul shouters, completely lost in the sentiment of the lyric.
Clare’s personal story of a spiritual dedication to Judaism touches everything he writes, and as his career has professed, he has continued to produce songs that ask us to probe our own emotions through the lens life’s bigger pictures. His Tiny Desk Concert is a glimpse at a musician capturing all of that complexity in a performance steeped in the passion of soul, one that mesmerizes and inspires at the same time.
“Love Can Heal”
“Open My Eyes”
Alex Clare (vocals), Jordan Peters (guitarist), Christopher Hargreaves (bass), Chris Prendergast (drums)
Producers: Abby O’Neill, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Bronson Arcuri, CJ Riculan; Production Assistant: Joshua Bote; Photo: Eslah Attar/NPR.