Fifteen is a new album from Claro, an R&B/Pop artist from Sydney, Australia. The album consists of 15 flavorful jams, which range from peppy and upbeat to sentimental and romantic. In fact, most of the tracks deal with relationships on some level, but the tone varies from optimistic to somber. Even the lyrics that chronicle heartbreak are couched within playful and rejuvenating melodies. They aren’t depressing.
I really like the album intro, which almost reminds me of 50’s Doo-wop. It’s just very classy, well done and managed to grab my attention immediately. While the intro gives us a taste, the 2nd track Get Me Easily unleashes the full power of Claro’s vocals. It’s really a fantastic performance. There are some real high notes here, hit without even the hint of a strain. His vocal dynamicism is on display from start to finish. Claro’s voice has a refreshingly innocent quality to it. It doesn’t convey any of the cocky attitute or pomposity we’ve come to expect from budding young pop stars. This gives his songs a rare touch of sincerity and lends the subject matter an air of credibility. For example, Don’t Waste Your Time is one of the most humble attempts to court a female romantically that I’ve ever heard in a pop song. It has a great, bouncy, Nintendo-like beat, which the lyrics hop along to nicely.
There’s good variety with the backing music. Every song has its own distinct musical personality, and the instruments vary as well. Some songs have a light, funky dance music vibe, which others like Just In Time and Never Got the Chance have a traditional and straightforward piano backing. Since they are mostly all romantic songs, the pacing is on the slower side, but there are plenty of moments where the action picks up and gets your pulse going. My favorite song on the album is probably Sunsets, which has some excellent hooks and chord progressions of course but really just seems to contain that intangibly magic ingredient of a memorable, hit song.
All in all, Fifteen is an impressive album from an artist who performs at a very high level. Some of Claro’s songs are good or better than what is currently being played on the radio. Perhaps more importanly his music comes across as genuine, and that makes you want to root for him.
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