Following a clutch of lo-fi demos shared to Bandcamp, Bristol-based songwriter Clara Mann has shared her first ‘official’ single today via Sad Club Records. “I Didn’t Know You Were Leaving Today” is a delicate track that had a more challenging recording process than the pristine final product suggests, with fiddle, harmonium and the mixing all done remotely by collaborators. Mann provided the voice, guitar, and, of course, the words. She says:
“It was mostly just me and my mic at my desk, willing the neighbours to keep quiet through the takes. It was okay- just a bit lonely at times!”
You wouldn’t have the faintest clue that all the parts of “I Didn’t Know You Were Leaving Today” were recorded and arranged remotely if you weren’t told, as they are so in tune with Mann’s intimate songwriting that it feels as though it could only have been captured by musicians in a room together.
The songwriter has cited Charles Aznavour’s storytelling method of songwriting as an influence, and “I Didn’t Know You Were Leaving Today” certainly displays that, as she takes up the role of a discarded woman, left alone in her house, unsure when – or if – her partner might return, filling the hours with endless fiddling around. Nevertheless, she still kindles a forlorn love and devotion: “I’ll stand at the door if you’re coming back late / Leave out your coat and I’ll wash out the stains / and when the road gets too much for you, drop me a line / I’ll welcome you in, arms wide.” The heartbreak is underscored by the fiddle, which rises and crests with Mann’s words, reaching out like a gentle caress – but an imagined one, as she continues to wait in vain for the return of her love, dutiful and doting to the end.