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Clara Sanabras: Canning House

by Gig Reporters 2012

Clara Sanabras is an Anglo-Spanish-French chanteuse, guitarist and songwriter. She is quite the cosmopolitan artist; born in France, raised in Barcelona, then transferring to the metropolis of London – no wonder she is such a versatile musician.

Her repertoire of international ensembles she has toured and recorded with is as expansive as it is impressive: The Harp Consort, Theatre of Voices, The Dufay Collective, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, The Israel Camerata, Charivari Agréable. This represents her reputation as a multi-talented instrumentalist; Sanabras can understand and reorder the arrangements to her preference.

Clara Sanabras manages to bring a unique twist to the traditional folk sound – her well-stamped passport has helped her add a continental twist to the classic blues. It is her spellbinding voice, exploratory melodies and multi-lingual lyrics – that’s Spanish, French and Catalan additions to the English base.

The performance at Canning House was predominantly the early work from her ‘Songs of Spanish Exile’ project; discovering music from the exiles of Franco and the 15th Century – so this performance on Wednesday 28 March, was mostly in Spanish and Catalan. It is her more jazz-influenced tracks where her second-tongue of English comes through in the lyrics – she loves London for the cultural mix it offers.

Her sound and lyrics are as multicultural and multifaceted as her instrument accompaniment, which she plays herself. Sanabras favours string instruments and uniquely cultured sounds, including: baroque guitar, the South American charango, the Italian mandolin, the all-American telecaster electric guitar, and the Indian harmonium.

Accompanying her at the Canning House venue was Khyam Allami; a London-based Iraqi 'Ud (Oud) player. This was the first time they were performing together, at her Songs of Spanish Exile programme, in anticipation for her new album. Adding to the intimacy even more – Clara and her band were performing sans-microphone – Clara’s partner and father to her child, Harvey Brough, was also on stage. Harvey and Clara have been performing together for up to 15-years.

Her talents (annoyingly!) don’t end there! As well as being able to perform this multitude of instruments, with unique understanding of the history and culture they each represent; her ability to write evocative, poignant and honest lyrics in several langages; but Clara even illustrates her own albums and parts of her website. (As well as commissioning pieces for others).

Gee, thanks for making the rest of us look bad, Clara…

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