Singer/songwriters Tom Silva and Nicole Sotelo – the guiding spirits behind Clara May – blend their disparate musical styles to form an intriguing whole. Silva (a Malaysian-born filmmaker) possesses a sensuous, cellar-deep croon reminiscent of Scott Walker and Stuart Staples; Sotelo (a Harvard-trained theologian) sings in softer, more caressing tones. Clara May’s debut Hush reflects this diversity in songs that shift between brooding interior monologues and pointed commentaries about the state of the world. A furtive, self-dissecting mood animates tracks like “Location of Culture,” “Scrawl” and the title tune, embodied in Silva’s rueful vocals and the tangy acoustic/electric instrumental mix of the tracks. The furious guitar squall blowing through “The Chosen” underscores its searing commentary about the Iraq War, while “Hyderabad” paints a visionary, slightly surreal portrait of India. Sotelo takes the vocal spotlight on such thoughtfully poetic tunes as “Good Morning” and “Lullaby,” the latter gaining punch from Michael Sinclair’s pulsating bass line.

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