New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
San Francisco-based singer-songwriter/pianist Claudia Combs Carty is set to release her debut album, Phases, on October 22, 2021. Nine tracks deep and written over the course of a decade, Phases is as personal as a series of confessional journal entries. Each heartbreak takes lyrical form, and every intimate confession is transformed into soaring notes, in a crescendo of self-discovery and an honesty that can only be revealed through time and a ready pen.
"These songs are just deeply a part of me," says the 34-year-old Barcelona-born, Boston-raised artist. "It feels very therapeutic to be releasing them finally. Just like everybody else, I've been through some rough times. But you always come out of things. I am stronger from them. I am thankful for all of it. Falling in love all of those times made me know what I want and really defined me. It's wild that this album is coming out now, because, for the first time in my life, I'm in a very solid place. It's amazing to see myself from a perspective I did not have at the time."
It was very important to Carty that this record sound natural, raw, almost live. "I wanted these songs to sound like the listener is in the room with me," she says. "How I always play is sitting at the piano singing, so we didn't want to embellish the songs too much." Phases was recorded at Oakland, CA's 25th Street Recording Studios. Carty's sister, industry veteran Montserrat Carty, introduced her to a team that included producer Avi Vinocur, of the band Goodnight, Texas, whose songs have been heard in documentaries like "Tiger King" and "Free Solo," and has a day job working with Metallica. During the session, Vinocur added guitar and vocal flourishes but also developed a deep connection to Carty and her work that made her comfortable with allowing someone else inside such a personal expression.
"He heard my music and believed in it, and I felt he understood me and my music in a unique way," she says. "This album would not be anywhere as good without him. It's terrifying when a collaborator doesn't have the emotional attachment to it and says things like, 'This word needs to change.' But everything he suggested made sense. He's a truly intelligent and talented musician."
Although the album doesn't come out until the fall, Carty already released her first two singles from it, the set-opening "Silent Whispers" and "All That," earlier this year. "'Silent Whispers,'" she explains, "is about anxiety. When I wrote that song, I was panicking, and I thought, 'I'll play piano.' I literally made it up then, the words were coming out of my mouth, and I was like, 'What is that?' I didn't know I felt these things." "All That" was inspired by the end of a long relationship with someone Carty really loved. "But he was not right for me," she says. "It's about trying to move on, when the person really is still with you in a lot of ways, whether you like it or not."
Several additional singles are planned for release before the album street date. "You Make Me Wanna Stay" will be released on August 13th, and a premiere is already planned at Glide Magazine. "Don't Blame Me" is set for September
10th release. "Don't Blame Me" is the first song Carty wrote. "It is so fundamentally me," she says. "Everyone who knows me has heard that song at some point, and it's a classic, at least in my life. It's kind of funny, when you say, 'Don't blame me,' when it kind of is your fault." "Every Single Time" comes out October 8th.
Each song marks a timeline of relationship dramas, highs and lows, and those experiences have created a vulnerable showcase of piano and voice that is at once relatable and singular. Carty's influences include songwriter Will Oldham, who performs as Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Stevie Nicks, and the late Jeff Buckley. Like those artists, Carty reveals her pain and uncertainty to produce something warm, sometimes uncomfortably relatable.
Carty has been expressing herself musically since childhood and ended up taking up piano after her mom asked, "What instrument do you want to play?" Her family took her response to that question seriously, buying their 7-year-old daughter a piano, "even though we didn't have a lot of money," Carty says. "It's the most incredible thing anyone has ever done for me." First came playing, and then singing, with classical compositions giving way to The Beatles
and inspiring a passion for improvisation and expression. "My family always knew when something was happening with me, or when I was sad, because I'd be playing the piano," Carty says. "The piano has been a teacher and therapist for me."
After attending a performing arts high school, she decided to formalize her passion for music by studying at Boston's storied Berklee College of Music, which was followed by a move to New York, where her first songs were conceived. It followed that she spent a short time in Austin before settling in the Bay Area. Despite urging from friends and family to record her songs, it took Carty a while to be in the right place, mentally and emotionally, to do so. When a boyfriend bought her the equipment she needed to record the album herself, "I didn't use it once," she recalls. "It was some blockage. I didn't have love for myself. It took me a while to start dedicating my life to myself, a lot of therapy, and a lot of self-reflection. And once I got there, I was like, 'Let's get this recorded.'"