Single Review: Clare Maguire – Paper Thin

Photo: Jessie Lily Adams

Okay, everybody calm down – this is going to be a good review. Clare Maguire is one of my absolute favourite artists. A penchant for grandeur and a voice that can be commanding and cold in one instance, but serene and sultry in the next; she is right up my street. It all started so promising – she was adorned the title ‘Voice of 2011’, the debut single was flawless and the dark-pop of her debut arrived at the same time that the scene was thriving with big voices and dark undertones. Then she disappeared. Things happened and she changed – she blossomed. Clare Maguire became an artist that literally cannot be silenced – her Twitter gave home to her hilarious and observational tweets, the freedom from the hype she had been tarnished with was gone and the music was intrinsically hers. ‘Paper Thin’, aside from her demos and covers, is the first big step into the world. A new song from, what feels like, a brand new artist.

It’s hard for me to cast any criticism towards Maguire’s stunning debut, but many argued that the tracks tried too hard and were a little overproduced – well, they are going to be elated upon hearing ‘Paper Thin’. This song couldn’t care less if radio didn’t play it. It couldn’t care less if you didn’t like it. It’s brave, raw and captivating. It will draw you in, but you’d better be willing to give it your attention. The slight key changes, the tinkling bells, the triumphant chorus-like vocals in the lyric-less chorus – there is so much to dissect. One listen is never going to be enough.

On top of it all, Clare refuses to be boring. You might condemn the familiar sound of the piano and a repetitive drumbeat, but save for the surprising twist it throws at you at the end. Sounding like the lovechild of jazz, trip-hop and dubstep. Anyone that follows Clare on Twitter will know that her musical tastes are rather eclectic and it’s merged into a glorious soundscape here. The chorus has a soul touch to it’s jazz sensibilities, bringing upon itself similarities to Joan As Policewoman and Laura Mvula. It’s all topped off with Maguire’s distinctive voice though – she is warm and heartfelt from start to finish. ‘Paper Thin’ oozes with her inimitable class and a swagger that is rarely seen outside the world of hip-hop – all it takes is a simple shrug for Clare to douse herself in attitude, but despite it all, she never once sounds unrelatable or cocky. She is aware of her incredible talent and manages to use it to full effect without even worrying about alienating her audience.

You might disagree, but ‘Paper Thin’ is a fitting step in the chronology of Clare Maguire. New inspirations come and go, and they colour the song beautifully whilst retaining a sense of the magic that made ‘Light After Dark’ so special. She’s done what is always a difficult task – retaining her loyal fans, placating them with more of the same, but allowed herself the room to grow and evolve as a performer, songwriter and artist. ‘Paper Thin’ will break the boundaries that her fine-tuned debut had placed up, it will make fans out of those that had not been so keen and it will surprise new listeners as they enjoy discovering just how incredible The Voice of 2011 actually is.

Photo: Jessie Lily Adams
Words: Simon McMurdo


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