No autotune needed on ‘Live at Electric Lady’

Clairo shocks fans with live, re-recorded album


Fair use from Genius

Sarah Peterson

Following her latest album, “Sling,” released in July 2021, Clairo stunned fans by dropping her first live-recorded album May 12. The album, “Live at Electric Lady,” came as a surprise — the announcement of its release had only come a day before on her Instagram. The album was recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York City where “Sling” was partially recorded years prior. The new record is the live version of a few of Clairo’s songs, with the majority of them being from “Sling.” Although the album doesn’t have any new music lyrically, it gives songs originally of “Sling” new life while experimenting instrumentally.

Before my first listen, I had a feeling that this album would exceed my expectations. After seeing Clairo in concert in Feb. 2022, I knew that she didn’t disappoint live. She felt more in her element and seemed like she genuinely enjoyed being a performer. This stays the same on “Live at Electric Lady,” where the listener can practically feel the joy her and her band experience while recording some of the best tracks live. 

The first thing I liked about this album was the song selection. There are five songs on the re-recording, all hailing from“Sling” except for “Bags,” which is from Clairo’s first studio album, “Immunity.” Curiously, the songs selected for “Live at Electric Lady” were actually already my favorite songs from the original album. She decided to re-record the singles, “Blouse” and “Amoeba,” but also challenged the original sound of the more obscure tracks from the album that happen to be my favorites, “Partridge” and “Zinnias.” 

Kicking off with “Bags,” Clairo accomplishes meshing her sound from years ago with her sound of today. I love “Bags,” and was excited to see what it would sound like now. After all, “Immunity” has a very different sound than “Sling,” transitioning from electronic-indie-pop to acoustic- folk-indie-rock. Clairo graciously blends both of the genres, by adding in heavier drums but keeping the original catchy electric guitar licks. I liked her addition of horns into the song — the clarinet, saxophone and flute gave the song more depth without taking away from the lyricism. 

The album continues with “Amoeba,” “Zinnias” and “Patridge,” the more upbeat songs of the record. These songs were especially enjoyable to listen to because of the instrumentals. The explosive crash cymbals, the rocking electric guitar and the pounding piano keys all contribute to the authenticity of the album. I love how Clairo and her band perform live together — their bold changes to the original versions are fun and exciting, proving their validity as true musicians. They are not afraid to mess with things and have a lot of fun in the process. It all sounds rawer and realer — their lack of worry over making everything perfect has helped them create even better-sounding music. 

The album closes in a much different tone. In “Blouse,” Clairo joylessly sings about a broken relationship. With only a soft guitar playing, she sings “Why do I tell you how I feel, when you’re just looking down my blouse?” The live version is very stripped down — Clairo’s harmonies layered on top of each other in the original track are obviously not there in the live version, and the soft acoustic strumming of a guitar almost fades into the background. The song itself is beautiful — Clairo’s vocals are put on display most in this track and do not disappoint. I liked how the band didn’t add anything more on the track to make up for the loss of harmonies — the lyrics of the song are so powerful that the drums and horns could take a backseat this time.

Overall, “Live at Electric Lady” was everything I had hoped for and better. I can tell that Clairo rediscovered her love for music and performing through this record and these tracks, and I am so happy to hear her do what she loves again. The live recordings sounded incredible — there’s no surprise to why Electric Lady Studios is visited so often by many artists and bands to record their music live. I found no flaws in the album — although live music can never be “perfect,” the clarity and authenticity of it is what makes it so excellent.

“Live at Electric Lady”: ★★★★★