Drawn from the dark, enchanted seas off Southern New Hampshire, Clara Berry’s magical tales are intricately-woven pieces that dress themselves up differently for each new piece. Her haunting voice is yet another multicolored instrument in addition to a colorful buffet table that includes platters of pedal steel and baritone guitars, piano, bass, violins, violas, cello, percussion, trumpet, french horn, tuba and saxophone. That sounds like a cacophonous mess, but it’s not at all. It’s quite nice. Songs like “When This Mountain” and “Waltz for my Victims” are quieter and simpler, while “Air Traffic” is a fully orchestrated gem. There are many different shapes and colors, such as the dare I say avant-garde (and personal favorite) “Your Moon,” the jazzy “Boys,” the bluegrass-soaked “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” and the bluesy “Stella.” Such is the journey taken on Berry’s new album, The Magician’s Wife.
On her second full-length album, Berry, who grew up in Southern Maine, is joined by Wooldog (Joe O’Neill), a musician from Boston’s South Shore whose influences include Billy Martin (Medeski Martin & Wood) and John Zorn, which explains where the avant-jazzy stuff comes from. The album features many Lowell-area musicians arranging and recording Berry’s songs, and was recorded by Bradford Swanson (Mason Jennings, The Bad Plus) at UMass Lowell. A local effort, to be sure.
Upcoming shows: 10/21 Pete’s Candy Store, Brooklyn NY; 11/1 live at the HIVE!, Kennebunk ME; 11/20 Church of Boston, Boston MA; 11/21 The Red Door, Portsmouth NH; 12/6 Slainte, Portland, ME; 12/14 Radio Bean, Burlington VT; and 12/27 St. Elmos, Alexandria VA.
Berry’s previous releases were Wave (2008) and the Creature 5-song EP (2010).