“Clementine” creates an appealing sense of urgency without a lot of volume or density or high drama. I’m thinking it’s the cello. The cello has a deep tone, but not as deep as a bass; it registers more as melody than rhythm, but also colludes with an acoustic guitar in an elusive way. It’s there but it’s not there. It adds depth.
Jaffe’s voice doesn’t hurt either. She’s got a slightly roughed-up, Lucinda-like edge to her singer/songwriter delivery, and it’s particularly well-suited to a melody that gains traction from the purposeful repetition both of lyrics and of small musical intervals–few if any of the notes are more than two whole-steps apart. This might be almost claustrophobic if the song weren’t so fleet and insistent. And then, at 1:52, we get that new and different stringed sound–a clipped and itchy motif that sounds maybe like some pizzicato, maybe also on the cello–that helps drive the song even more insistently forward.
Jaffe is based in Denton, Texas, also home to Midlake, with whom she has toured. “Clementine” is a song from her debut album, Suburban Nature, which was released last week on Kirtland Records. The album came out digitally last month. MP3 via Jaffe’s web site. Thanks to Some Velvet Blog for the head’s up.