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With her gutsy, haunting vocals and dark, brooding, and atmospheric alternative dance sound, singer/songwriter Clare Maguire has been favorably compared to the likes of Portishead‘s Beth Gibbons and Kosheen‘s Sian Evans. Born in Birmingham in 1988, the former shop assistant wrote her first song at age seven, and after building up a loyal following through her MySpace page, she sparked a major-label bidding war involving Jay-Z before signing to Polydor Records in 2009.
Influenced by Howlin’ Wolf and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, she recorded her debut album with Mark Ronson, turning down tracks offered to her by Plan B and Jarvis Cocker in the process. After supporting Hurts on their U.K. tour and winning a Q Award for Next Big Thing, she released her debut single, « Ain’t Nobody, » in 2010, with her first album, Light After Dark, following in early 2011.
The album recieved mixed reviews, however, and was generally viewed as a disappointing debut considering her obvious vocal talent. The second and most successful single from the record, entitled « The Last Dance, » managed to climb to number 23 on the UK singles chart, but overall the album’s relative failure triggered something of a downward spiral with Maguire.
A stint in rehab was required to curb her alcoholism, and her contract with Universal was cut short. After straightening herself out and developing a pared-down writing set-up in her Battersea flat based only around her voice and piano, her follow-up album Stranger Things Have Happened was released in spring 2016.