The poetry, melodicism, choice of instruments and meticulous arrangements heard on Claire Tucker's debut solo EP Same Old Hunters recall musical eras far enough in the past to seem nostalgic. However, Tucker and co-producer Colin J. Nelson keep us in the present by making economical use of these sounds and by keeping the focus on Tucker's voice, always front and center and relatively dry in the mix. Tucker's record mines a kind of baroque rock vein, replete with thoughtfully placed fragments of sound, reverb-drenched percussion, harp, mellotron flute and strings, and sweeping choral background vocals. This is not to suggest that her music sounds anything like the standard-bearers of the genre - Brian Wilson, The Beatles and even Love's Forever Changes come to mind - yet you can hear a through-line from those artists to Tucker's music.
On the first track August, Tucker sings "I know full well I was meant for these times" and in considering why she would choose to take these songs in a new and different direction rather than save them for her band Loose Wing, she seems to be making good on her words. 2020 has been a year of everything being turned upside down. Bands can't play together, forcing songwriters to go deeper inside and create their music in a state of isolation. While it isn't easy, this state of being, and of mind, is somehow fertile ground for Tucker.
Tucker's solo songs provide a counterpoint to the work she does with her two Seattle bands, Black Nite Crash and Loose Wing. Unlike her solo work, those groups tend to inhabit heavy soundscapes. But don't be fooled. While her solo music has a lighter touch, she is still dealing with seemingly dark and heavy feelings, especially in the song Tickets and Tapes where she sings "we do what we hate to do... slowly brutalized over time."
These are sweeping, pastoral, and downright beautiful sounding songs, each juxtaposed with dark, edgy sounds and words reminding us that all is not necessarily well. There's something in the shadows that Tucker's music is dancing around (fear, regret, yearning?), something she seems to not want to immerse us or herself in, but she still needs to acknowledge it, to deal with it. The deft balance of light and darkness in her songs is evidence that Claire Tucker seems very much meant for these times.