By Pud Christmas
The Vic’s Public Service announcements are usually reliable: dogs are indeed welcome and children usually kept on a leash; card payments are not taken for less than £10; and no one could argue with the opinion embroidered into the bar staff’s t-shirts that the Vic is “a proper pub.”
However I felt I had to take them to task when their blackboard announced that tonight’s live music would be “Clare Free”, given that the artist in question was called Clare, and so far from being free of Clare the pub was stuffed with it. Perhaps it referred to what us lucky punters were required to pay to listen to her set - it can’t have related to what she was paid, as her sassy bluesy performance was anything but amateur.
A simple enough set up, with Clare, her soulful voice, and guitar craft of the highest order, which delivered a stream of blues which, according to the Interweb, is re-defining blues for the modern world, and I think the interweb is right! There were standards (Walk the line, Sweet home Alabama, Johnny B Goode) but delivered afresh, and plenty of self-penned songs that hit the same sweet spots.
Another great gig!
Review By Ian Harbour
What can I say? As a life long fan of the blues it's a treat to discover an artist like Clare. I first saw her live in my home town of Leicester. Clare and her band performed her own songs and some excellent covers, notably an excellent version of the B.B. King classic 'The Thrill Is Gone' - the video of this I took can be seen on her website. I next saw her perform a solo acoustic gig in Derby. Just Clare and a guitar - simply magical. She sang a wonderful acoustic version of Eric Clapton's 'Tears In Heaven' at my request. Wonderful stuff. Weather performing with her band or solo Clare always gives 110% Singer. Guitarist. Songwriter. Wife and mother. Constantly performing up and down the UK and now Europe you should be able to see her in a town near you - and you really should. I sometimes wonder how she finds the time. Clare always writes from the heart and her songs have a warmth and passion that I love. Check out her website www.clarefree.co.uk where you can watch some videos... By Ian Harbour
Dust and Bones Review by John Hurd
Ever since Clare Free’s 2010 CD ‘Be Who You Are’ I’ve been looking forward to a new one from the girl from Oxfordshire. Her musical upbringing saw Clare mingle with some excellent British Blues musicians including popular band ‘The Spikedrivers’ and Matt Schofield, but I found the disc a bit too clinical sounding, the vocals a bit too ‘folky’ (I like folk but it didn’t quite fit the themes or the music on the disc). On her second official release ‘Dust & Bones’ though, Clare ticks a lot of boxes that say ‘This is not just ‘another’ woman playing the blues who knows her way around a fretboard - this is a unique voice waiting to be discovered’.
Here’s the problem: If you sing the Blues Old Style you get accused of copying, the Blues needs to be fresh to survive. But if you add a twist, you get Jazz, Rock, Pop… in fact pretty well every genre is a variation. How many Blues songs do you know that deal with the fear of miscarriage (‘Small Miracles’) hidden beauty (‘Scars’) or stalking (‘Creepy’)? If ever there was a woman writing modern Blues for women then it’s Clare Free. with it’s slightly plummy, English-rose edge, even her voice doesn’t fit the standard Blues mould.
Some topics of course are male and female. The title track ‘Dust & Bones’ explores the end of a relationship. Clearly the man has made a serious mistake and it’s going to end the relationship, but what is it? Maybe it’s nothing concrete – just a matter of jealousy. The female subject of the next track for example. But then ‘Little Miss Jealousy’ has a right to be suspicious – “She don’t know that I dream of you every night” as Clare sings. Tangled webs indeed.
There is a great deal to enjoy in the songwriting on this disc, but it never gets in the way of the music, which is first rate Blues/Funk. Clare has been making a name in the UK as an excellent guitarist, and her fretwork here is a joy to hear. It’s as eclectic as her lyrics. The simple guitar lines of her heroes Albert Collins and Buddy Guy melt into riffs and melodies that call to mind Led Zeppelin and Guns n Roses – often within the same track. Bassist Dave Evans deserves special credit for the overall sound of the disc – his funky bass patterns provide a lively texture for Clare to paint her solos on.
This year sees Clare Free stepping onto European stages for the first time with shows in Belgium and a number of festivals. A mother of two children, she is up against a veritable battalion of ‘girls with guitars’ right now. Dani Wilde, Sam Fish, Chantel McGregor, Erja Lytinnen, Sue Foley, Ana Popovic… Can she compete? Is the market saturated? It’s all very much down to how the public react to Clares unique perspective on the Blues, given that the majority of listeners are likely to be male. If I was a woman though I’d love this CD – heck, I’m a man but I love it anyway! Intelligent lyrics, imaginative music and super guitar. Are you listening European promoters? The last CD was promising – this one delivers. www.3songsbonn.com
Musicnews.com - 29th March 2012
Dust and Bones Review by Andy Snipper
The first bars of this, Clare's second album, tell you a large part of the story: good rockin' Blues with a boogies edge, nothing you haven't heard before but played better than most. And then the vocals and she is not sounding any kind of ordinary - these are the least 'ordinary' lyrics I've heard in many yonks and sung in a voice that is slightly high in pitch, a little nasal and filled with lifes experiences and cares.
Her guitar playing is excellent, more than just the aforementioned boogie, and backed up by a band that can play their instruments too - Dave Evans bass is superb, melodic, almost lead lines - and drummer Pete Hedley has the knack of hitting only what needs to be hit while Matt Allen's rhythm guitar gives space for Ms Free to do her thing.
Every track here has some identity from the clever lyrics of 'Can't Slow Down' or the funky feeling of 'Believe In Me' to the pounding rant of 'Small Miracles' or, my personal favorite 'Scars' and each and every one bears repeat listening. Clare has written every track and she comes over as confident and very able.
Clare Free is original and fresh but her sound is familiar enough to be easy to listen to but the real benefit is to be found in close listening.
ToneMonkey -17th March 2012
Dust and Bones Review By Ian McHugh
I really like it when an album opens with a good impression, and Clare Free’s new disc, Dust and Bones does just that. The first bars make a pretty good statement of intent, being as they are an accomplished blues rocking boogie. Clare has been growing a fanbase for quite a while now, being noted as a guitar player who can stand up to the best of them, male or female, and as a solid live performer, and this disc serves as a showcase of this reputation.
There are moments throughout the disc of some real excitement, mainly in the fretwork department, and there is no denying that her talent in this field puts her up alongside the others in her immediate peer group. Alongside Dani Wilde, Joanne Shaw Taylor and Chantel McGregor, Clare is one of a group of great female guitar-slingers coming from the UK at the moment, we’re lucky to have them and it’s exciting to have such talents playing such wonderful music and making the guitar an accessible thing to a previously hard to reach demographic. Vocally there are also bright moments through the disc, Clare can sing, and there are moments of truly great feeling dotted around to make this an album worth listening to. These two things together make Clare a force to be reckoned with, and rightly so, her choice of licks is tasteful and slick, and when notes creep in from outside the blues’ typical choices they really freshen up what can be a stale sound in other hands.
Songs on the album, all written by Clare, are often heartfelt and direct, especially when she deals with issues that you may not pick as an obvious song subject. Clare does not shy away from the unexpected, dealing, as she does, with bullying, stalking and the difficulty some women face when trying to conceive a child. Different and refreshing in a male dominated genre and where a more typical song is of love or lust gone wrong, and even on these subjects, as with the title track’s take on infidelity, Clare’s viewpoint is different and engaging.
Musically the album is strong overall, the band is tight and well rehearsed as any road sharp crew should be, and they do a great job of backing Ms Free. The bassist, in particular, gets a real chance to shine in the riff driven title track and other rockier numbers through the record. There are points throughout the record when Clare lets passion take over entirely, and at these moments you hear what she can really do, both as a guitarist and a singer. It’s the sheer joy of these moments that can give you the feeling the rest of the record is a little restrained, but in other hands it would be seen as spectacular, it’s just that the fire that she has available is so exciting, it burns bright enough to dull anything in comparison.
It is a good record, I highly recommend checking it out, especially if you’re a fan of the funkier edge of blues, there are enough ‘moments’ to elevate it above the average and to highlight Clare’s great potential as a singer, songwriter and most of all as a guitar player. Most of all it has done it’s job in making me determined to catch on of Clare’s gigs in the near future to see if the potential I can hear here comes to fruition as I expect.
Fatea Magazine - 16th March 2012
Dust and Bones Review By Neil King
Having a double X chromosome has often been a disadvantage in the blues world. It means you've had to try twice as hard to get recognition as some of your XY contemporaries, though in fairness it has to be said that this scenario has improved somewhat over the last few years.
Similarly you were pretty much to use your songs to expose yourself as some sort slut before you could get any real sense of airplay for your euphemism laden tracks. Again that's something that has really began changing in the last decade or so, all of which bodes well for, "Dust And Bones", the new album from blues guitarist and songwriter, Clare Free.
That's not to say emotional issues aren't included in the songs on "Dust And Bones", of course they are, this is a blues album for Pete's sake, what they don't do is dominate. You get to appreciate the riffs and solos in the songs for what they are, to appreciate the slices of a song when the guitar is just there to support the vocals, rather than being the centre of attention all the time.
It's no coincidence that I felt myself nodding along with the album, tapping fingers and yes occasionally playing some subtle air-guitar to the more appropriate moments, just as easily as I found myself sitting in silence when a song was picking up on the more lyrical themes.
Clare Free shows herself to be a pretty mean singer/songwriter across "Dust And Bones" her chosen outlet happens to be blues, but you get the feeling she could turn her talent to anyone of a number of genres if the mood took her.
I've been enjoying the quality of British blues that have crossed my path already during 2012, "Dust And Bones" more than maintains that high standard. Fingers crossed that this album not only gets the opportunity to make its presence felt on your cd player, but also on your radio. It's been getting a lot of air time in my house and car and rightly so.
Fanzeyeview.com -28th February 2012
Dust And Bones- Review By Roger Allen
Dust and Bones is the title of the eagerly awaited follow up to her debut cd ‘Be Who You Are’ and the EP ‘How It Is’, and is being released on 23rd March.
The new cd seamlessly blends blues influences of Stevie Ray on ‘Can’t Slow Down’ and ‘Believe In Me’,along with some rock riffs ‘Scars’ and ‘Creepy’. The two tracks here also show Clare’s wonderful song-writing ability, turning everyday not talked about problems into the mainstream. 'Creepy' is a song about stalking, while 'Scars' is about school bullying, both handled and explored in a mature way.
Different subject matters again on the wonderful track ’Small Miracles’, telling the story of a friends’ struggle to conceive a child, while ‘My Last Day’ describes a person’s ‘bucket list’ of things to do when they know of their impending death.
Two tracks that I really like musically are the glorious slow blues of ‘Stronger Than You Think’ and the sumptuous groove of ‘Little Miss Jealousy’, both very different in sound and vibe , but are a great example of the different styles incorporated into Clare’s music.
Clare’s popularity is ever growing and with this cd will see it increase, with great lyrics backed with some sweet
grooves.The title track is already available and being played on a number of radio stations and she is always on tour so check her and her great band out.
I really like this cd it is the natural progression from the EP and will hopefully see Clare’s profile raised to another level.
Guitar International Magazine - February 2012
Dust and Bones review by Matt Warnock
The Blues is a vast and rich musical genre that has proved to be one of America’s lasting musical contributions to the global community. After being birthed and raised in the U.S., the blues has since spread out to welcome musicians from all over the world to its flock, producing some of the most memorable and lasting recordings and musical moments of the past century. While the blues has spread out geographically, unfortunately when it comes to the musicians that play this great music, the vast majority are male, with only a small percentage of blues musicians being women. UK guitarist, singer and songwriter Clare Free aims to help break that glass ceiling as she makes her presence felt through her live shows and recordings, the most recent being Dust and Bones. An accomplished lead guitarist, Free’s music shows that women can rip just as much as their male counterparts, and alongside other artists such as Donna Grantis, is helping to bring a much welcomed spotlight to the great women musicians on today’s blues scene.
The album features a nice mix of traditional blues grooves and funkier, more modern tracks that showcases a wide swath of Free’s musical background and tastes. Tracks such as “Can’t Slow Down” and “Small Miracles” are riff-driven songs that fall into the more traditional blues realm as far as their construction and groove. Both tracks feature killer guitar solos by Free, as she brings to light her ability to be melodic in her lines, while building intensity and using her chops when the time is right. For someone that has the ability to tear things up, Free shows a welcomed amount of restraint with her chops, choosing the right moments to bring them to table instead of relying on them for the majority of her licks and phrases.
On the funkier side, “Little Miss Jealousy” is a fun track that digs into a funky rhythm-guitar groove, driving the beat forward as Free floats her vocal lines over top of the solid rhythmic foundation. During her solo on this track, Free takes a clean approach to her tone for the first half, before stomping on her distortion pedal to raise the energy level in the second half of the solo. Again, this is a moment where Free’s musicianship allows her to lead the listener through her solos, rather than playing them at the audience, and it is a big reason for the overall success of the album as a whole.
Dust and Bones is a strong release for the British Blueswoman. The songs are well-written, feature an nice amount of diversity and the playing is intense and melodic at the same time, all things that fans of the blues will no doubt enjoy.
FATEA- February 2012
Review by Neil King
EP:How It Is
"How It Is" has been out a while, but with a full blown album coming rushing over the horizon, it seemed like a good time to remind people that this EP is out there and provide a welcome reminder of Clare's talent as a blues guitarist. Not that she should need that much of an introduction having recently landed the WRC award for "Best Acoustic Performance". Clare knows her way around the fretboard, developing an extremely intutative and expressive style which is why it's the live tracks on "How It is" that seem to closer capture Free's relationship with guitar and audience.
Blues Blast- 10th February 2012
Review by Ian McKenzie
Clare Free and her band have been going from strength to strength. In 2011, Clare was the winner of the best acoustic performance accolade in the WRC Awards and her song “Funky Mama’s Kitchen Blues” was a nominee for the song of the year in the 2011 British Blues Awards. Clare’s debut CD, Be Who You Are, was followed by an EP, How It Is, which was given away as a free (no pun) download, and both those outings were well received by critics.
Clare is a fine guitar player with a touch that can move from shredding to subtlety in a second, but always under prefect control, She is a fine singer with a smoky voice and an occasional growl in her voice, which can add a very sexy touch to it all.
Clare’s maximum strength however, comes from her song writing. In live gigs she does do some covers (Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean by Ruth Brown is a fave) but here and on all her recorded work, it is wall to wall originals.
Once, a couple of years ago I chided Clare over a perceived lack of right-on blues in her music, some of which had a noticeable ‘country’ tinge; not problem of that kind here.
The album comes with fourteen tracks, and as behoves a songwriter, proud of her work, the lyrics of all the songs in a nice CD booklet. The songs range from the opener Can’t Slow Down, a delightful whinge about the pace of life in contemporary society, to Little Miss Jealousy about the green eyed emotion that can be so destructive in relationships. The latter song is a pointer to the theme of most of Clare’s writing…the effects of events and other people, on emotional ties. As with all the tracks on this CD it comes with some exemplary guitar work that has matured and expanded significantly in the last few years.
The title track, is outstanding. A bass guitar underpinning with a wonderful damped-bass descending figure as the hook, the song is about a collapsing relationship where a cheating partner makes it all collapse into dust and bones. The axe work here is nicely restrained most of the time but breaks out with, a vengeance, in a solo that reminds me of a mix of Robert Cray and JJ Cale. Fabulous!
One more song deserves a mention and that is Creepy. This one which comes with a kind of Creamlike opening riff, is about the experience of being the victim of a stalker. “You’re so creepy, what’s it gonna take to make you back away from me”. A tremendous song, with a nice guitar break. Deserves a lot of air play.
Midlands Rocks- 30th January 2012
Clare Free – Dust and Bones
Review Rob Stanley
Clare Free is quietly making a rather large name for herself on the UK Blues circuit and in my opinion is one of the most exciting female blues players out there today. Whilst using traditional blues as her starting point Clare has pretty much turned the rest on its head and developed her own unique style and delivery encompassing a melting pot of blues, country and rock rhythms all tied together and inspired by Clare’s own personal experiences, people she meets and the world that we live in. This makes for an explosive combination which is clearly prevalent on her new CD ‘Dust and Bones’ and brings ‘Blues’ kicking and screaming to the present.
The title track ‘Dust and Bones’ is all about infidelity and tackles the subject matter with pure emotion and sensitivity. Its intense underlying bass line pulls you in right from the first note and Clare’s guitar work; like that on all of the tracks on the CD are simply a pure joy to listen to.
With ‘Scars’, Clare moves to the dark side with this solid blues backing rhythm mixed with a Skunk Anansie feel which simply blew me away on the first listen and continues to do so now. I can think of no other performer who could pen a song containing lyrics like ‘She’s the most beautiful girl in the world, but her face is covered in scars’ and come out the other end with a potential blues/rock classic. I love it!
It’s not all modern blues though. ‘Stronger Than You Think’ has that traditional blues feel. Everything is slowed down and every note is perfectly situated and never over stated. The only thing missing from this track is an intense extended guitar solo, which I am sure will find its way into the live version.
But it’s not all about Clare. Dave Evans' intense bass playing underpins and drives each song along perfectly, supported by Pete Hedley on skins whilst Matt Allen adds that final magical touch on rhythm guitar.
In short, this really is a superb CD that showcases Clare’s mastery of the fretboard and lyrical talents perfectly. A definite must have CD.
The official release date is 23rd March which will be held at The Limelight Theatre, Aylesbury.
Reproduced with kind permission of Midlands Rocks
Lemonrock- By Guy Higby January 2012
Clare is a really first-class guitar player and she accompanied herself with her acoustic instrument, skilfully and effectively. She is a singer-songwriter and has just picked up the "Best Acoustic Performance of 2011" Award from the prestigious WRC. I didn't think I was particularly fond of blues music, but Clare made the blues feel fresh and interesting she often injected a country flavour into it, for example in the excellent song "My Everything".
Clare is a great communicator, equally happy to be talking or singing, and her powerful, note-perfect voice filled the venue impressively. We listened intently and tapped and clicked and swayed to the insistent rhythm and the interesting, soulful lyrics. Her album "Be Who You Are" is full of really listenable music, and she will be launching a new collection in March (see Clare's web-site). The venue was extremely supportive and I hope that Clare came away with the feeling that Aylesbury likes her and would love to welcome her back.
Blues in Britain Magazine- July 2011 By Sue Hicking & Tony Winfield
The Greyhound, Beeston, Nottingham 1st July 3011
Clare is one of a number of exciting female Blues performers on the British Blues circuit today. Her confident guitar style and imaginative self-penned lyrics, together with her tight and dynamic band ensured a varied and lively set.
The gig was free to enter, so unfortunately there was a lot of noise at times from the Friday night revellers, making it difficult to hear the vocals, but undeterred Clare and the band entertained the Blues enthusiasts with a range of original and very enjoyable numbers from her EP, her current CD “Be Who You Are” and her new album which is due for release later this year.
Clare's song-writing roots lie in the Blues but lyrically she is inspired by the modern world. Many of her songs are drawn from her personal experiences, and the listener can easily identify with the tales of love, treachery and daily life. We particularly like 'Creepy' from her forthcoming album, which tells the story of a cyber stalker. Musically her influences include country, rock and funky rhythms, creating a fresh and exciting sound. Her talents extend to her cover arrangements, and in particular her terrific version of 'The Thrill Is Gone' .
Clare is a very talented young lady, and her band provides the perfect backing for her excellent guitar work. She is certainly up there with her contemporaries such as Susan Tedechi, Dani Wilde and Chantel McGregor.
If you haven't already seen this band we highly recommend that you do so.
Moonshine Magazine- April 2011 By Glyn Thompson
Clare Free succeeded in impressing those present with her blend of refined song writing, solid instrumentation and wide ranging (though centrally blues based) repertoire...what pleased me, was that underneath the gloss of the girly front cover (see website & promo),lurks a powerful band engine ready and willing to drive all the way down the gigging road.
Blues in Britain (UK) December 2010- By Paul Stiles
The Limelight Theatre, Aylesbury- Supporting Joanne Shaw Taylor
It said sold out on the door and the theatre was packed with an excited and expectant audience for this evening’s gig. Clare Free Band opened up with a short set and made a cracking start with “I Won’t Lie” from the Album “Be Who You Are”. The set contained three new numbers: the mid-tempo “Believe In Me”, “Creepy“, a song for the ladies and “Small Miracles” a nice rocky number which had an SRV feel to it. All the songs were well received by the audience. The band were: Clare Free – guitar and vocals, Matt Allen – guitar, Dave Evans – bass and Pete Hedley – drums. Clare’s EP, “How It Is” (see Issue 107) is available as a free download from her website and we got three tracks “She’s An Evil Woman”, the very slow “My Perfect Man”, which contained a sympathetic and minimalist rhythm section behind Clare’s bluesy and heartfelt guitar work and, as the title suggests, the funky “Funky Mamas Kitchen Blues”. They also played “Please Don’t Say You Love Me”, from the album “Be Who You Are” and closed the set with a Ruth Brown song made popular by Susan Tedeschi “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean“, to rapturous applause.
Blue Monday Monthy (USA)- December 2010- Gary Eckhart
How It Is, a 4 song LP, is a live recording, which is a pretty brave move:if you sound great live, you're the real deal, and on the same note it can easily go the other way. But within the first 30 seconds I was turning the volume up. One of my favorate things is discovering tomorrow's shooting stars- not that I discovered her- people have known about Free for some time now- but its the first time I had heard her and its a rush when you hear someone of her talent for the first time. This lady is definitely a superstar in the making, a can't miss in my books.
Her vocals rival those of Susan Tedeschi, Sue Foley, Marcia Ball, and Angela Strehli, and her guitar work is just as good. When Free tears into it, she holds you captive; she smokes on that axe. She picked up her first guitar when she was 12 and hasn't looked back since.
Her debut CD "Be Who You Are," was released in May 2010 and received positive reviews from around the globe. Its a mix of country, rock and blues and it's done right. She knows when, and how, to shift the gears as the CD rolls along. "We Were Seventeen" is a blues rocker and is one of my favorites on the CD. The tune gives you a good idea of things to come. Do yourself a favor and buy this CD, because further down the road you are going to want them all.
There is a story to be written about this gal and I'm going to be the one doing it for our magazine, definitely, I want to see her live and I hope that's not going to be a problem, for she lives in Great Britain. Maybe with a little coxing we can get the job done.
Clare Free, if you're reading this, keep on doing it gal, your music is larger than life.
Blues in Britain (UK) November 2010- By Paul Stiles
Clare Free- How It Is EP
Hot on the heels of the critically acclaimed album 'Be Who You Are,' arrives an EP of four tracks from the Clare Free Band. This time though, it's free for you to download from Clare's website and you are actively encouraged to copy the tracks and pass them on to your friends.... The musicians are Clare Free, lead guitars/vocals, Matt Allen, rhythm guitars, Pete Hedley, Drums and Dave Evans, Bass.
The first track is a new song 'Funky Mama's Kitchen Blues' written by Clare and is, as the title suggests, about the woes and wishes of a hard working Mum. The funky beat and blisteringly distorted guitar work gets this EP off to a flying start.
The other new song is 'My Perfect Man,' a slow ballad with guitar work in the vein of Peter Green (In The Skies era.)... 'I Won't Lie' has a SRV feel to it and tells the story of not being an alibi for a deceiving friend and 'She's An Evil Woman' jogs along nicely telling the tale and warning about loosing your man to that woman!
Slick and precise guitar solos feature throughout and the rest of the band put in powerful performances making for a great listen....rush straight to your computer and download now, and as they say in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy "Share and enjoy." Rating 10/10
La Hora Del Blues (Spain) November 2010
Clare Free is a versatile singer, songwriter and guitarist, gifted with a special, soft and breathtaking 'sex appeal'. Recently Clare has made herself a name and a good reputation in UK blues rock circuit, and she has also shared stage with some of the great musicians of British blues, like guitarist and Matt Schofield or singer Dana Gillespie. The music of Clare Free and her band is full of references to pop, rock and even modern country music. In short words what you will find in this work are ten fast and well built songs, heavily full of rock-blues and 'American', together with some references to English pop. Her music is fresh and happy, as both Clare and the rest of the musicians who back her, Hannah Cope bass and vocals, Rhys Friery keyboards and Pete Hedley drums, shown they have very clear ideas, great feeling, besides a professional knowledge and a mastery instrumental technique. So it is a bright album with a very good final production too. GREAT.
Roots Time Magazine (Belgium) November 2010
Clare Free- "Be Who You Are"
Please note that this review has been translated
Dani Wilde, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Erja Lyytinen, and Ana Popovic are some of the young ladies who are stepping into the spotlight to play the blues worldwide as well as being excellent on the guitar. Add to that now Clare Free, who like the first two comes from the UK, and brings blues rock and brilliant guitar work to the front...
The album has a strong start with 'Let Me Down Easy' which has a catchy riff that you will find yourself humming for days. 'I Won't Lie' bears the signature of Stevie Ray and talks about Clare not give a friend a false alibi...each [song] shows Clare adding clever with guitars and funky rhythms to the blues making the songs sound fresh and spicy....Yes, the growing number of women guitar players has another strong sister. Clare Free, we think its right to say just 'Be Who You Are'
Guitar International Magazine (October 2010) By Matt Warnock
In my job as Editor for Guitar International I get a ton of emails from guitarists all over the world who want me to check out their site, album, YouTube channel or ebook. While many of these guitarists are, how do I say this, still in the development stage of their careers, once in a while I get an email from a guitarist like Clare Free. Clare is the real deal. A singer, songwriter and killer blues guitarist...
It’s not often that a guitarist from today’s endless sea of players can really grab my attention and hold it long enough to listen to their album, dig into their website and then feature them on GI, but Clare Free is one of those rare guitarists. A player who has soul, a knack for melody and enough emotion in her blues-guitar work to grab your ears and drag you into her musical world.
Clare Free recently sat down with Guitar International to talk about her first full-length album, being a woman in a male dominated job and her new E.P. Click here to read the full interview on the Guitar International website. (Please note we have no control over the content of external websites.)
Blues Matters Magazine Live Review (August 2010) By Martin Clarke (Presenter of The Blues Session on Radio Wey)
Friday 11th June- 7.45pm and The Clare Free Band have turned up to play live on The Blues Session on Radio Wey. After Squeezing the band into Studio 2 and a quick sound check the band are ready to go on air at 9 pm. The line up is Clare free guitar/vocals, Hannah Cope on Bass, Matt Allen on [rhythm] guitar and Pete Hedley on Drums.
Sat behind the desk keeping the levels and monitoring the band I'm really enjoying the sound of the mix of covers/original material. Even with the amps turned down to almost zero there is an energy there that just wants to escape and the superb guitar work of both Clare and Matt really get the session going. Pete on drums and Hannah on bass provide the glue that holds it all together; but I sense that this band can do so much more in a live venue.
Saturday 12th June - 9.15 pm and I'm now in the Belle Vue pub in High Wycombe and while England are playing the USA Clare and fellow band members are setting up. The football finishes and the locals wander back into the main bar away from the wide screen TV and Clare is ready to start. The first set starts with 'I Won't Lie' which is a track from the album 'Be Who You Are' and straight away I notice a remarkable difference between the band playing live and what has been captured on the CD. The album is good but sounds a little too clean, but live, the band have energy and rawness which is fantastic. Three more songs into the set taken from the album confirms this; the band sound even better live. Then its time for some covers and a supereb Texas Shuffle with the SRV classic Pride and Joy I'm wanting more of this and thinking why on earth are there no covers on the album. Clare has a great voice which begs to get down and dirty which is what happens as the set progresses. All in all a fantastic night out, some great home grown material and blues covers. If you like the album, which I'm sure you will, you're going to love seeing this band live.
Blues Matters Magazine- Album Review (August 2010) By Roy Bainton
Recorded in Buckinghamshire, ‘Be Who You Are’ lays bare in ten self penned songs an impressive talent in Clare Free. If you’re not familiar with the name, take a look at her striking website at www.clarefree.co.uk and you’ll then realise why she sounds so good. She’s performed over the years with a number of high profile names, including Larry Garner, Matt Schofield, Dana Gillespie, and even retro-punk violinist Nigel Kennedy as well as (!) Rolf Harris.
As a guitar player, Clare knows her way around the blues and is definitely the mistress of her Stratocaster. Her band, with Hannah Cope on bass and backing vocals, Rhys Friery, keyboards and drummer Pete Headley are all fine musicians, to. From a somewhat refreshing female standpoint, Clare’s lyrical craft often takes you beyond the blues so it’s nice to have all her lyrics legibly laid out in the liner notes.
There is deep-felt passion in such fine songs as ‘My Everything’, ‘Is This Love I Feel’ and the achingly nostalgic ‘We Were Seventeen’. The final song, ‘We’ll Have The Time of Our Lives’ perhaps sums up her philosophy; ‘We can go any place we choose/the wind in our hair will blow away our blues/and we may not be millionaires/but that helps me see the good things that we’ve got…’ And this album’s one of them. Roll on, Clare Free – you’re terrific.
Maverick Magazine (July 2010)
Heck of a guitarist...with a love of blues with great guitar riffs, and raging lyrics full of attitude.... Her music definitely has a punch to it and Clare is the perfect front-woman for her sound...it would seem Clare Free will find herself in popular demand. CB.
Blues in Britain Magazine (July 2010) By Paul Stiles
Be Who You Are -Clare Free
I have been listening to a couple of tracks from this CD for a while as they were available on a single CD earlier in the year and I was fortunate enough to catch Clare and her band live at a recent gig (see review in this edition). So it was with interest that I sat down to listen to the other eight tracks on this album, having recently heard a live rendition.
All the songs are written by Clare and are usually about some form of human relationships, containing thoughts and feelings we’ve all had at sometime in our lives, or at least know somebody who has, and are summarised in the titles.
The album starts off with the lively “Let Me Down Easy”, which has a very catchy riff and chorus and will have you humming the song for days afterwards. “I Won’t Lie” has an SRV feel to it and tells the story of not being an alibi for a deceiving friend. It’s a funky beat that accompanies “My Everything”.
The band is: Clare Free, guitars and vocals, Hannah Cope, bass and backing vocals, Rhys Friery, keyboards and Pete Hedley, drums.
“We Were Seventeen” reminisces when life was so simple and is delivered as a real rocker with wailing organ.
“Please Don’t Say You Love Me” once again self explanatory when it comes to the story in the lyrics. This album isn’t all Blues but instead contains songs that were drawn from a wide range of rock, folk and country influences as well as the Blues.
The album flows and makes for easy listening time and time again. Clare puts in some slick and precise guitar solos and is handsomely backed by the very professional band.
This CD is a great collection of tracks, comes with all the lyrics in a well designed twelve page booklet, and is technically very well produced. I know the band can reproduce these songs live and this album is definitely one for the collection. Oh and make sure you play track ten all the way to the end for a little surprise.
Blues Blast Magazine (June 2010) By Ian McKenzie
Clare Free is a Brit who has been playing guitar since she was 12 years old. She is a prolific songwriter and has worked with numerous top-flight musicians including Dino Baptiste who introduced her to Dana Gillespie with whom she worked on tours in India and at the Mustique blues festival (in the Caribbean). She cites her influences as a mix of blues, rock and country and this CD is a good example of all those elements although more blues/rock/pop than straight blues.
Impressively, all ten tracks on the album are self-penned. The opener, ‘Let Me Down Easy’ is a countrified piece with an opening guitar part that sounds like the best of Nashville. Next up is ‘I Won’t Lie’ which IMHO is the bluesiest track on the CD, this has a nice rhythmic hook and features a guitar solo reminding me a lot of Jeff Beck. The lady has some nice chops!
Some of the tracks are barely bluesy at all. ‘Fool To Pride’ is a poppy song, but with what I suspect may be a self-revelatory lyric “Angry, I cut you, made you bleed. My razor tongue got free”. Some nice axe work here too but not enough of it.
Another nice blueser is “She’s An Evil Woman” with a melody which is just on the edge of my consciousness (one day I’ll remember what it reminds me of).
Admirably supported by Hannah Cope (bass and backing vocals), Rhys Firey (Kbds) and Pete Hedley (Dms) this outing shows off Clare’s song writing and guitar playing skills to a Tee. A nice addition to the growing group of ‘girls with guitars’ like Joanne Shaw Taylor and Dani Wilde all of whom are enlivening the UK blues rock scene.
Oxfordshire Music Scene Magazine Issue 8 (March 2010) by Lisa Ward
“Clare Free details on her website how she spent her youth improvising around classic pieces much to her teacher’s dismay.
This freedom transpires into her music which bridges a diverse divide between country and rock, whilst her vocals seem to dive into the realm of blues, focusing on forlorn love.
The melodies of ‘Let Me Down Easy’ share this progressive stance, opening with a tune not dissimilar to the likes of Kasey Chambers in its country vibe , before rolling into some rockier riffs….. this sample of her forthcoming EP [album] is demonstrative of Clare’s ability to fuse her passions of country, rock and blues into a unified sound, which is both contemporary and catchy.”
Review from www.AMPjam.net 04/01/10
"As a few of you know, every once in a while we get a look at a band from further afield. In this case Bicester down on the Oxfordshire territories. The name? The Clare Free band, a four piece fronted by the aforementioned lady herself on vocals and guitar. Clare Free and her band have been busy on a new album soon to be unveiled, but for now they’ve been supplying a few snippets with a demo of what’s to come.
Blues is very much what is on order from what we’ve heard, with a dash of country influence that pierces through with some southern vocal lilts. Pretty much what’s the standard for the band though the track has a bit of a kickstart to it and a a bit of a Texas vibe (as in the Glasgow rockers, not necessarily just the state), a hard poppy sound to it gives a promising slant of breathing some modern energy into the country/blues genre.
Kicking in with a Pink Floyd strutt of a riff, the second track, “Please Don’t Say You Love Me” is obviously going in a very different direction and is sharp on all of it’s corners with a catching funk slant that carries on the modern blues twist, and it’s pretty refreshing to hear something supposedly “old fashioned” have a sassy punch added to it.
It’s also quite strange that despite the amount of bands we’ve seen and reviewed, there hasn’t been something down the country route, so Clare Free and co. are our first dive into the realm, but it’s not just a couple of southern influenced songs, there’s some clever blues guitar licks whipping around in there and the tracks are poles apart with some laid back rhythms and some sharp funk. And if that’s just the teaser, the full album should be something to look forward too."
All reviews reproduced with the kind permission.
"With two highly acclaimed albums, a host of top Blues Festivals in the UK and overseas, and numerous international tours under her belt, Clare Free is a force to be reckoned with."