In a short time, Claire Cottrill has become one of pop music’s most fascinating chameleons. Even as her songwriting and soft vocals often possess her singular touch, the prodigious 25-year-old has exhibited a specific creative restlessness in her sonic approach. After pivoting from the lo-fi bedroom pop of her early singles to the sounds of lush, rustic 2000s indie rock on 2019’s star-making Immunity and making a hard pivot towards monastic folk on 2021’s Sling, the baroque, ’70s soul-inflected chamber pop that makes up her third album, Charm, feels like yet another revelation in an increasingly essential catalog. “It's definitely very important to me to try something new every record, challenge myself a little bit more,” she told Apple Music’s Matt Wilkinson in a wide-ranging conversation about the record. “There’s something about reconnecting to my individuality or maybe my femininity that I had lost that I now feel closer to.” Charm is Cottrill’s third consecutive turn in the studio with a producer of distinctive aesthetic; while Immunity’s flashes of color were provided by Rostam Batmanglij and Jack Antonoff worked the boards on Sling, these 11 songs possess the undeniable warmth of studio impresario and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings founding member Leon Michels. Along with several Daptone compatriots and NYC jazz auteur Marco Benevento, Michels provides the perfect support to Cottrill’s wistful, gorgeously tumbling songcraft. “Meeting my producer for this record, Leon Michels, totally changed my life and was something that happened out of life experience and not necessarily out of me looking for somebody,” said Cottrill. “I was a big fan of his, and I reached out, and I realized that we lived closer than I thought. And so I just started driving over there, and we started making music, and then it just sort of happened, which I think actually was really healthy. It wasn’t something that was planned, and it wasn’t something that felt forced. It was so cool, and it was such a different direction, and it was something really fresh and new, and I think putting my energy into that was worth it.” Here, woodwinds flutter across the squishy synth pads of “Slow Dance,” while the simmering soul of “Juna” spirals out into miniature psychedelic curlicues. Then there’s “Echo,” which possesses an electroacoustic hum not unlike legendary UK duo Broadcast. “[‘Echo’] was one of the last songs made for the record,” said Cottrill. “To me, that song is a dark and moody version of having a crush on somebody, but it sounds very spooky. I'm not used to spookiness in my songs.” At the center of it all is Cottrill’s unbelievably intimate vocal touch, which perfectly captures and complements Charm’s lyrical theme of wanting desire while staring uncertainty straight in the eye. Keep reading for eight more things we learned from Clairo about Charm. Clairo wanted to explore the “gray area” of being charmed by someone. “I really liked the idea of the gray area and the buzziness that two people can feel when they’re being charmed by each other, because it usually happens before they really know each other. It’s kind of like a crush, and I kind of wanted the record to live in this bubble of that gray area, and then I make up the rest of the story, whether it’s good or bad.” But this album was also about the artists she’s always been charmed by. “I was really connected to artists that I felt very charmed by in a particular way—Harry Nilsson, Margo Guryan, Blossom Dearie, and Peggy Lee, even Suzanne Vega. There's something incredibly mysterious about them, all really incredible with songwriting, and at the same time, they don't take themselves too seriously. There's a sensual part of all of their voices, but it's very understated. It’s kind of that alluring, I want to know more about this person. Also, Smiley Smile by The Beach Boys. I love that record—it’s really fun and refreshing, I guess, to hear bands that have such an enormous catalog and are known as some of the best songwriters in the world do something silly and it be genius.” This was the record she needed to make after the “serious” Sling. “I’ve been toying with the idea of this type of record for a while, especially because Sling was so serious, and it was so focused on domestic life and slowing down. I also realized writing about sensuality or exploring my sensuality through music, even if the songs aren’t very sensual, was important for me to do. I’d never written that way, or maybe I’d never really thought that that was a huge part of my life and never really connected to it until I realized that it was a lacking element of a whole person. Everyone should talk about it. It’s been really fun and freeing. I think I just really wanted to have fun and enjoy myself and write a record that feels very of the now for me.” And she needed time to get here. “I think it’s close to three years since Sling. And that was a great amount of time to figure it out. I would even dare to say I could take longer, but I’d never taken time like that before. I was burned out. I was completely in burnout mode. I had nothing left to give, and I finally feel like I’m building myself back up again with music I feel really proud of and with a total new perspective. And I just feel like I’m getting closer to being the person I want to be and making the records I want to make and trying to understand how to maneuver the rest of it in a way that doesn't make me feel insane.” On this album, she let herself get darker. “I don't usually delve into things that feel that dark, although I do feel like maybe in my earlier songs, maybe when I was posting things on the internet in high school, I do feel like there’s a couple of those that were a bit dark. It’‘s been a long time since I had done it myself, but I listen to things like that all the time.” Charm represents her now—but it was also shaped by going back to her earliest music. “What was really interesting about this record, actually, was I revisited a lot of my SoundCloud music and a lot of my first record and I guess Sling. I guess I just really decided to look back on everything I had made and try to understand what the thread was between all of them, what made it a song that was mine, and I had kind of a hard time finding it. But I found it most in some of the earlier things, maybe the things I was doing on my own, the things I made in high school, which was really interesting, because I never really thought that I would revisit those things so seriously. But it was a big part in this record, closing this loop for myself—of revisiting the thing that I had started with.” She loved that her parents didn’t get it this time. “This was the first time where my mom didn't immediately like something, and I actually found it to be this beautiful moment where I finally was making something that she didn't like. There’s something really good about it. She didn’t get it, and I was like, ‘That’s awesome, because now finally I’m doing something different.’ I’m doing something that feels like me, because I show it to my friends, and they’re like, ‘This is so you, man,’ and then I show it to my parents, and they're like, ‘I’m not sure I get this, Claire.’ That’s how it should be. And maybe my music has never felt rebellious enough from them, so this is awesome.” Recording the album live made her feel looser. “This record was so performance-based because every song was recorded live, I guess, completely. [There was] something really cool about everybody having their own wheel to every part of the song, and they just did what they wanted to do within the bounds of maybe what I brought in or what we talked about. Watching a band bring my songs to life, or watching them come up with something, was incredible. And it also made me feel a lot more comfortable, or maybe just a bit looser in terms of, like, ‘Well, I’m going to have fun now, and I’m just going to write lyrics really quickly and see what comes.’ And there were some songs that I kept the vocal take that I did with all of them sitting on the couch around me because it just was the most emotive take. It might not have been the best technically, but it was the one that mattered and the one that felt like you were in the room.”

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada