By: Daniela Patrizi

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Released on April 4, 2016 via Bandcamp

Clara Engel creates music that is always rich in texture as well as human connections and her new release, Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss, is a wonderful addition to her body of work.

Heading from Canada, Clara Engel is an independent artist and musician that has already released eleven albums and has collaborated with musicians and artists from all over the world. The new album itself, initially conceived as a solo guitar and voice album, features the contributions of several artists and, whether they provided bass, strings or just a violin touch, they are all part of an incredibly beautiful performance that blends elements of acoustic instruments and electronic treatments into a perfect cocktail of sounds to fall in love with. The outcome is an album that is very rich in sounds with memorable melodies, minimal and gentle. The uplifting and multifaceted voice of Clara is the predominant instrument and to her goes also the credit for the intelligent lyrics of the album. Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss is not an instant hit, it requires time to be fully appreciated and several listening; it will grow ad every listen until you catch its beauty.

Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss is a collection of five songs that someone described as “folk noir, “minimalist holy blues from another galaxy,” and also “sung poetry.” The difficulty in tagging her music tells about the uniqueness of Clara Engel’s style and her inclination to experiment and find new sounds.

The new album, that’s deeper and somewhere darker than her previous works, starts with a sound poem titled Swans that features Clara at the electric guitar. ‘Swans’ has funeral and gothic tones in contrast with the following ‘Uneasy Spirit’ through which Clara takes us in a new world where acoustic strings, chorus, percussion and ambient sounds are perfectly combined. Both songs sound mystical and spiritual though, her voice is always at the center and it’s dramatic as are the lyrics.

Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss by Clara Engel

‘Swallow Me’ is another great moment of the album that combines poetic lyrics, entrancing vocals and a complexity of sounds that demonstrates the ability of the artists involved. Electric guitars, saxophone, violin, bowed baritone guitar, flute, marimba and vibes: there’s a whole, brilliant orchestra in this track and the outcome leaves you speechless.

The album’s mood doesn’t change with ‘I Love An Evil Queen’ that’s about the temporary nature of human existence and the music reflects the depth and sadness of her thoughts. There’s also a hint of hope here thought and, when you find it, the music will wrap you and confort you.

Heaviness is vigorously back with the last piece of the album. The atmospheric guitars in ‘Once A White Owl’ build tension upon tension while the owl warns of imminent death. The folk-noir minimal progressions here are drenched in the atmosphere of melancholy, heartache and even grief.

Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss is a great album that deserves to be listened carefully. It’s an album whose depth prevents it being immediately accessible but it generously rewards the time invested in it. Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss goes beyond a simple collection of songs: its sounds, its lyrics are entrancing.

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