You are a light that just won’t fade.
Late night on a Thursday. Rushing home to get in front of the TV on time. Your mind has to convert the time difference between Tennessee and California. You grab the remote and pray you’re not late on tuning in to the only show you actually watched on television — country music soap drama Nashville.
I can tell you the first time I saw Scarlett O’Connor only because I remember seeing her on TV and feeling like she was me. I don’t really watch television, but I was in love with country music, and when I stumbled across Nashville, that was it for me.
Clare Bowen was on TV playing Scarlett, a girl who was waiting tables in The Bluebird Cafe. She wasn’t living in Nashville to find some big break. She was there in unconditional support of the people she loved. She was shy and scared of audiences, but she loved writing poetry, even though she didn’t realize that poetry could just be lyrics without music. She discovers how much she loves to sing. She starts following her heart. She starts pursuing things for herself for the first time in her life. She gets up and covers Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” and even though I knew the audience cheering for her in that cafe was scripted and filmed on camera, that was it for me. Bowen’s portrayal was it for me – and consequently, I loved Scarlett and I loved Clare.
“All of Me” is one of my favorite songs off the Nashville series and when they performed it in this scene, I melted. I love it. I love the way the my wrote it on the show and I can’t let go of it. My favorite part is when they say, “Tell the world to stay away,” in the full version. It’s so sweet and beautiful. The only thing is … That was almost two years ago.
Fast forward to last week, and Clare Bowen has finally dropped her self-titled debut album, and I’m just going to tell you – it’s something that’s been keeping my spirit afloat for days now. My favorite off it is “Let It Rain.” It’s sweet and simple but perfectly crafted. I wouldn’t really call all of it country. The record sounds so freeing, I barely know how to put into a category. I don’t even like the whole genre thing. I just wanna call it music that I love. It’s soft and gorgeous and uplifting. It’s moving and spiritual and something that should just be out in the world today.
I guess I’ll let it go.
Take a heavy weight from my back.
Find a blessing in the storm.
Let it brightly light my path.
– Let It Rain by Clare Bowen –
I just feel like Clare has kind of been this constant presence in my life, especially when I was growing up and really turning to country music for an escape. From her singing “Free” – which is one of my favorite Zac Brown Band songs ever made – to playing the girl who just wanted to make meaningful music on Nashville, I am so happy that the rest of the world gets to see Clare for Clare now.
[ Here she is performing with ZBB. I remember watching this on TV in 2013 and crying. ]
Clare Bowen is an album for the gypsy souls who might be looking for a way to settle their restless minds. Listen to “Lullabye,” or “Warrior” if you’re in need of a push today, but if you’re not, then you can just sit back and enjoy a summer night while her perfect blend of powerful songwriting, sweet singing, and gracious melodies brush past your ears. I’m just so grateful for her existence. She is sunshine personified. I’m glad that Nashville is now in her past, and that only the inevitable sweet aftermath of putting her golden artistry into the world under her own name is in her future.
Dear country music lovers, I recommend watching Nashville if you’re somebody who can deal with drama … because there is a lot of drama, which is something I’m not really good at handling. I don’t really watch television. I don’t really like soap operas, but I had a huge appreciation for music and the industry, and though this show is all scripted, there are parts of it that speak to the truth, especially when it comes to the art of music making, being a songwriter, chasing your dream, and even just trying to connect with the people who are most like you.
Watch it if you’re into all of that .. and then stream Clare Bowen until the sun goes down.
Aves’ Song by Clare Bowen 2019