Indie Music

Claire Rousay: Sentiment review – the sound of life happening elsewhere

Sentiment is Claire Rousay’s self-professed pop album, and compared to the abstracted sound collages of earlier works marks a subtle change of pace for the experimental Canadian-American artist. “Pop” might seem a stretch, but these are field recordings with a solid emotional centre, the soundtrack of someone unspooling in real time. “It’s 4pm on a Monday and I cannot stop sobbing,” intones guest Theodore Cale Schafer on the opening track – and the stage is set.

Rousay’s own vocal is soft but robotic, like raw emotion fed through a machine. Much of Sentiment took shape in solitary hotel rooms, and a feeling of confinement lingers while she conducts a mental autopsy of failed interactions, jealousies and self-inflicted solitude. Lover’s Spit Plays in the Background is “an apology song” for driving others away, set to twinkling midwestern guitar.

Emo? Probably. But there are no cathartic singalongs in the album’s downbeat cello or swelling drones. Its relatability stems from somehow managing to recreate the specific texture of loneliness: conversations just out of earshot in W Sunset Blvd; the scattered birdsong and faint car horns of Sycamore Skylight, suggesting hours ticking by while you stare at a ceiling. These fragments of sound might be snatched from everyday moments, but drive home the feeling that life must be happening elsewhere.

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