claire morales
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claire morales

Denton, TX | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Denton, TX | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Rock Folk




"Why Claire Morales Is Denton’s Best Young Singer-Songwriter"

A solo acoustic singer-songwriter since she was 13, Denton’s Claire Morales put a band together and released her first album last year. The transition has been a resounding success. A recent performance at Harvest House for 35 Denton turned heads. People were looking at each other, wide-eyed over what they were hearing. Morales is a brilliant artist with one of the best live shows in North Texas.

“I honestly couldn’t tell from the stage,” Morales says when asked about the crowd’s response. Perhaps she missed the size of the crowd or how enthusiastically they responded, cheering after every song as if a virtuoso had just improvised a mind-blowing solo. She must have also failed to notice that seemingly everyone at a music festival with more than 100 bands appeared to have Claire Morales on their list of must-see performers.

Morales has a fearless voice that makes a dramatic first impression. She stretches her vocals out across hazy folk rock songs in all sorts of ridiculously dynamic ways. But as wild as her voice is, her enunciation is always very clear. “Prettier,” the opening track from her debut album, Amaranthine, comes out of the gate with a surprising amount of gumption. You find yourself wondering where she learned to sing like that.

Morales was in choir in elementary school, but that’s the extent of her formal vocal training. “I felt like it might change my voice and make it sound maybe technically good, but not as interesting,” she says.

Morales’ lyrics are captivating. “I’ve got something awful in me too / Won’t you push it out?” resonates in plenty of different ways. Prominently inspired by Neil Young, her upbeat rock sounds make great car songs.

“Swarm,” in particular, is a track that easily could score a film scene. “It’s about a bad dream,” Morales says. “I tried to make it really dreamy and melodic.”

Her songs that lean more toward folk will absolutely break your heart. “Lie I Love,” for example, slows things down and brings in some harmonica. With simple lyrics, frequently repeated to add weight until the chorus becomes a mantra, it’s a gorgeous torch song. But Morales’ voice hints at an even greater intensity that is somewhat confusing until her words turn to a longing wail.

“I used to write lyrics a lot more intensely,” Morales says. “I felt like I had to use a lot of words in order to get to a meaning. But that song was a conscious attempt to simplify and say things with fewer words.”

Many great live acts seem to struggle to create recordings that capture the vitality of their live shows. Amaranthine is a fully realized, cohesive body of work, one of the best albums to come from North Texas in recent years. But Morales and her band are now besting it with live performances as she prepares to record a follow-up this summer.

“Amarathine was made with songs I had written for just me on guitar,” Morales says. “We kind of filled it in with the band. But the new album has been written with everyone else in mind.” It will be recorded at The Echo Lab, a Denton County studio with a huge live room that will guarantee even bigger sounds from Morales.

“I usually just write songs and don’t think too much about the genre,” Morales says. But lately she has been taking cues from ‘60s and ‘70s rock, particularly David Bowie and Brian Eno. She also collaborated with Fort Worth’s Gollay for a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne.”

Amarathine is tied together by themes of nostalgia, with Morales wondering if who she was as a child would approve of who she is now. “Don’t you ever wonder what little kid you would think of current you?” she says. “You have these ideas and things you want for yourself and they change. I just don’t want to disappoint little kid me.”

But the songs she is working on now are about desire: “I think about how much of life is about what you want and how that can guide your actions,” Morales says. And what she wants will certainly be worth listening to. - D Magazine

"Q&A: Claire Morales"

Amaranthine is the debut album from Denton singer-songwriter Claire Morales, and though its official release may have been back in February, we’re thinking this dreamy, wistful record will be what sweetens the coming summer days.

It’s fitting, then, that the North Texas artist will be making an appearance at Summer Cut on June 3 at South Side Ballroom. Before that glorious set happens, we caught up with Morales about the new album, her hometown of Denton, collaborating with Daniel Markham and more:

KXT: Major congrats on your most recent album! Tell us a little bit about Amaranthine.

CM: Thanks so much! Amaranthine was my first full length album, it’s all about nostalgia and coming of age and ice cream and bad dreams and perfectionism and birthday parties and little kid thoughts. I was a solo artist, playing acoustic guitar up until then. I had been making music for about 10 years without releasing anything.

It was a big deal to get a band together and go electric and actually put something out in the world instead of deciding it wasn’t good enough for human ears. I think just getting that first thing out there can be the hardest thing for an artist, it’s really vulnerable and scary. But once you do it, anything seems possible. We’re about to start recording our second album and it’s much less scary!

KXT: When not making music, you’re a graphic designer. Do those two worlds – graphic design and music – ever collide or influence one another?

CM: They absolutely do. I think the iterative process required to create good design work – generating concept after concept and not being afraid to throw work away if it’s not right – can be really useful in creating music. It helps to feel detached from what you make in a sense. You still put yourself into what you do, but you can accept and learn from criticism and not take it personally when there’s negative feedback. I feel less afraid to throw songs away when they aren’t working now. I know there will be more ideas, better ideas. I probably release half of what I write.

My work ethic as a musician improved during design school, too. I realized creativity isn’t something you can wait around for. It has to happen all the time, whenever you can find a minute, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. I also began to understand the value of being fluent in different aesthetics visually and sonically. It’s super important to just open up and see what other artists have made and get inspired by it. I started listening to a lot more bands and finding some good musical influences that have changed my music for the better.

KXT: How has Denton/North Texas influenced your music?

CM: The simplicity of Denton helps me make music. There wasn’t a lot happening here when I was young, it was kind of flat and understated. Denton has grown a bit, but it’s still a nice quiet place to make stuff. I’ve always been a fan of stillness and calm, I don’t have much flair or decoration in my house. There’s something pretty about blank walls and quiet neighborhoods. My music is simple in a way, simplicity is definitely a value of mine as an artist and an easy one to cultivate here.

Also, all the amazing music I’ve seen growing up in DFW has been a big inspiration. I remember being just out of high school and going to clubs and house shows and seeing bands like New Science Projects play and realizing that kids my age were making real music that people dug. There has been and there continues to be so much great music in Denton, it makes you want to be a part of things and make cool stuff too. The tacos help too — we’re lucky to live in Texas!

KXT: We loved your recent collaboration, “Lechuza,” with your boo, Daniel Markham. What was that creative process like?

CM: Thank you! That process was so much fun. We wrote a whole album — Harmony in Hell — in a month. It started out with me just wanting to do one song for the series of covers I was recording with pals, but instead we wrote a tune about a serial killer and that sparked the idea to do a whole Halloween album. It was super awesome being able to make so much so fast. Daniel is an amazing songwriter, and we just worked together really easily, even though we barely knew one another at the time. We hung out almost every night of October and performed secret rituals and wrote songs and recorded them ourselves. Pure magic.

KXT: On that note, just for fun, who would be one of your dream artists to collaborate with?

CM: Oh man. Angel Olsen, Leonard Cohen, Iggy Pop, Bowie or Patsy Cline — if they were still alive, Sibylle Baier, Michael Stipe. I guess that’s more than one! I just love collaborating. You learn so much and it’s a great way to get to know somebody. - KXT (Dallas NPR Affiliate Station)

"Spotlight On… Claire Morales"

DENTON’S MUSIC SCENE — one of the state’s most celebrated — has always been defined by a certain ephemeral nature. The college town’s most impressive draw, the University of North Texas’ storied school of music, brings in a bumper crop of talented and ambitious young musicians every year, and the city affords them with a half-dozen or so quality live music venues where they can try out their artistic voices in front of appreciative, practically captive audiences. After all, if you’ve got no love for electric guitars and dive bars, the entertainment options start to feel slim.

Really, the only trouble is that everybody has to graduate sometime. The top musicians often move on to the brighter lights of Austin or L.A., and the college kids soon disappear in search of their first paycheck. As a result, Denton can often feel like a scene in constant flux. The artistry comes in waves: rolling in and making a big splash before receding again, over and over.

Sometimes, though, a rock is discovered amongst the waves — smooth and polished by the tides, like the scene’s newest darling, singer-songwriter Claire Morales. Unlike so many of her musical Denton forebears — Norah Jones and Roy Orbison among them — Morales didn’t discover the city’s community of musicians during freshman year. Instead, she was practically born into it.
“When I was about 3, I’d make my family listen to me sing on the fireplace,” Morales says, her soft and pleasant North Texas accent confirming her as a Denton native. “I learned how to play guitar when I was 11, and I started playing shows when I was 13.”

Lucky her: there are worse places for an artistically inclined young woman to grow up than Denton, Texas. As an adult, the town has proven more than receptive to her strikingly personal blend of folk and rock, anchored by Morales’ strong, supple singing voice. As readily as it reminds of greats like Patsy Cline and Joni Mitchell, though, her biggest influences were discovered at home.

“My dad was always playing guitar,” Morales says. “He used to play us songs when we were going to sleep at night, like the Beatles and Bob Marley and just whatever he liked at the time. He and my mom are really creative people. My mom used to design jewelry, and she’s always doing all sorts of cool, creative stuff. I thought it was just something everybody did.”

And she’s still doing it. After graduating from UNT’s design school, Morales now works as a graphic designer by day. The singer insists, though, that music is her main creative focus, even if the two disciplines tend to intertwine.

“They definitely influence each other,” Morales says. “You learn that creativity is something you can’t wait around for. You have to constantly be seeking out and trying to engage. Having to be creative all the time and make stuff all the time — even if you don’t feel like it — is a great exercise for any artist.”

The greatest exercise yet of Morales’ budding artistic career has been the release of her debut album, Amaranthine. For a singer-songwriter who got her start onstage when she was still in junior high, Morales says that, fittingly, it’s a coming-of-age record, full of dreamy nostalgia and a pained longing for the way children grow up believing that their lives will turn out.

The record was a major turning point in Morales’ music career, solidifying her transition from an acoustic solo performer into the electrified frontwoman of a proper rock band. The recording process was a decidedly Denton affair, pulling in bassist Ryan Williams, drummer Russ Connell and lead guitarist Ryan Becker to add some punch behind Morales’ powerful vocals. The album was cut track by track in the busy home studio of Denton scene fixture Michael Briggs.
“We’d just found a new drummer maybe a month before we went into the studio,” Morales recalls. “It was just a matter of figuring out arrangements and doing everything ourselves, since there are a lot of places around here where you can get discs printed. I didn’t even consider trying to get it on to a label, because if felt like such a first effort.”

While her backing band adds some punch to the record, the accompaniment is kept relatively simple and restrained: Morales’ voice and lyrics are front and center at all times. Amaranthine is infused with the soul of ’60s folk-rock, wistfully searching for the loving and harmonious future those old songs seemed to portend. The disc has helped spread Morales’ acclaim beyond the pastoral outskirts of her hometown, but 2016 finds the artist in no mood to pat herself on the back. This summer, she’ll retreat to the secluded Denton-area studio Echo Lab to record a follow-up with engineer and Centro-matic drummer Matt Pence.

Morales says she’s got a title in mind for the album, but she’s not ready to share it yet. But she’s dead set on delivering a more assured and accomplished work this time out.

“I kind of get obsessed when I make a new album,” she says. “This one is about desire — all different types of human desire. I like to pick a theme that kind of ties everything together.”

The public’s first taste of the new material is likely to be unveiled at one of Morales’ favorite Denton haunts, like Dan’s SilverLeaf or Harvest House. But the artist says she’s more than ready to take her show on the road — if for no other reason than to prove to others both within and outside her community that launching a recording and touring career from Denton is still a viable proposition.
“We’ve played in Arkansas and Oklahoma recently, and Austin — that was fun,” Morales says. “Because of my day job, I haven’t been able to do a lot of traveling. I’m actually about to stop doing my day job and just do freelance so I can have a more flexible schedule.” - Texas Music Magazine

"In Your Wildest Dreams: A Conversation with Claire Morales"

Many lifetimes ago I lived in Dallas, and I loved it. The city shaped me into who I am today, yet I've not returned since I left. For those counting at home, I was there before the prevalence of the internet and cell phones. Don't tell anyone! And while I've wanted to get back, I got busy living life, and experiencing other places in this big world. Now it seems I have a reason to return, and that's to see Claire Morales and her band perform.

Since Claire introduced me to her band in a succinct and polite email a good while back, I've been fascinated by the compelling stories her dynamic voice brings to life. Not to mention a seemingly effortless ability to shift styles. Recently, I spoke to Claire about the band, DFW, art, their 2nd LP, musical blindspots, and making the leap to a full-time musician. Here's what she had to say.


(AS) When did you start playing music and how would you describe it?

(CM) I started out playing music solo on acoustic guitar when I was 13. In the last couple years, I switched to electric and formed a full band. I have a hard time pinning down a genre for the music we make, so I usually say it's dreamy, melodic, lyrically obsessed mermaid rock n roll. Or something.

(AS) What artists influenced the band's sound?

(CM) Influences include Angel Olsen, Leonard Cohen, Nancy Sinatra, Stevie Nicks, David Bowie, Brian Eno and Sibyelle Baier. We've released one album so far in February of 2015, a full length called Amaranthine and have since played shows and festivals in and around Texas. I've also done a series of collaborative covers with friends and a full length album last fall with Daniel Markham.

(AS) Who is in the band?

(CM) The band is Ryan Williams on bass, Russ Connell on drums and Alex Hastings on lead guitar. We've been playing together in the current lineup for a little over a year now, and it came together really naturally.

(AS) How did y'all come together?

(CM) Ryan plays bass in a billion bands (Baptist Generals, Boxcar Bandits, and Bludded Head to name a few recent ones) and I had seen him playing around town for years. I just sent him a message one day asking if he would play with me, and he said yes. I felt super lucky since he plays with some really amazing groups from pretty much every genre you can think of. The band started out as a three piece with our pal Jesse playing drums, but we ended up parting ways amicably and he recommended Russ who plays drums with us now. Russ had played with Alex in another band (The Demigs) and thought he would be a good fit. We didn't have anyone playing lead guitar for us yet, so the timing was great.

(AS) What did you bond over?

(CM) Russ is a stellar drummer and he's also a metal worker, so we bond over artsy stuff sometimes. We all like donuts and greek food and a lot of the same music and sometimes long boarding and and we have similar senses of humor. Sometimes it's weird being the only girl (I've been looking for a keys/synth girl to sing harmonies with for ages) but the guys are awesome. They have such great ideas for the songs and are willing to come to practice every week and play shows and travel and work hard. It's nice to play with such stellar musicians / people.

(AS) When did you start making music? Early influences/supporters?

(CM) I've always loved making music. I was kind of a ham as a child and would jump up on the fire place and sing songs during family gatherings. I also just loved hearing music. My dad would play songs on guitar for my sister and I before we went to bed. He played some really great stuff: the Beatles, Elvis, Roy Orbison, Bob Marley, songs with really amazing lyrics and melodies. I would just lay there and sometimes cry a little and listen to the songs and pretend to fall asleep. My dad helped me to learn guitar and gave me instruments and my mom would convince coffee shops to let me play when I was 13 and just starting to do shows. They've always been super supportive and helpful, I'm really lucky to have that. There have been music teachers too, like the only voice teacher I've ever had, Amy Searcy (my elementary school music teacher goddess). We're friends today and she's still just so encouraging and awesome. I recently quit my full time design job to pursue music and freelance more seriously, and she and my parents were all for it. Music is a hard thing. It requires a lot of time and money and energy. You don't see a whole lot of concrete payoff and it's hard to do with a normal 9-5 job. It's really great to have people cheering you on and telling you you don't suck and buying you instruments when you are a little kid, annoying everyone with your singing while they try and eat family dinner in peace.

(AS) What's the best and worst thing about the DFW music scene?

(CM) The best thing is the music. There are great new bands happening all the time and I find it to be really inspiring. The worst thing is having to drive to Dallas to play shows.

(AS) You've mentioned work beginning on a 2nd LP, how is that coming along?

(CM) Yes! It's going really well. We have our songs picked out and have been demo-ing them in the studio our guitarist partially runs. It has been really great getting to demo the tracks before we go in for a week of recording at the Echo Lab next month. It's really giving us a chance to fine tune our songs and nail down tempos and arrangements and such beforehand. It's exciting and agonizing to think about releasing something new. Mostly exciting.

(AS) Some of your collaborations and an early track ('Wildest Dreams') from the 2nd LP seem like a departure musically from your debut LP, Amaranthine. What do you attribute the shift to?

(CM) It's just a new phase in life and music. These songs were also written with the band in mind, more so than the last album, so that's made for music that is a lot more energetic and big This music is much more rock, it's heavy and epic and a little theatrical at times. I've been listening to a lot of really dramatic rock music from the 60s/70s and that's maybe had an effect. The whole album is about human desire, so part of the reason the music has changed tones is to compliment that theme. Change is good for an artist. I wouldn't want to make the same album again and again. I recently watched Five Years, a documentary about David Bowie and found it to be really inspiring. He was always changing genres and aesthetics and playing with new people and trying out new things. It's made me a lot more comfortable with change and it's made me eager to work with as many different artists as I can.

(AS) The decision to take the leap to a full time musician couldn't have been easy. How long had you considered it?

(CM) I've been at my current job for almost four years, I've been thinking I needed to do this since I started, basically. It was a nice job with salary and vacation and all that, and my boss was really great. But I was commuting 2 hours a day and working 50 hours a week on top of that and I was going kinda crazy. It was a tiny design shop, just me doing all the design work and my boss doing all the business stuff. I felt like I didn't have any time to do things like write songs or have human relationships. Taking large chunks of time off to tour or record was just out of the question, so changing my work situation just seemed like something that had to happen. I'm the kind of person who likes to work hard and not sleep and handle things, so it took me a while to really admit that I needed to quit. I dig design, and I'm still freelancing. My goal is to eventually just do music branding. I love branding of all kinds, but designing posters, tshirts, album art, tapes...that stuff is really special. It's such an honor to put a face onto someone's art and I would love for that to be my specialty.

(AS) Family and friends are great at encouraging, but not quite as good for criticism. Who do you go to when you need an honest assessment of what you're doing?

(CM) My mom is actually pretty good with criticism! She's very supportive, but she's an artist herself, so she understands that feedback helps you grow. Sometimes she'll tell me that a song I'm playing isn't really working or that my voice didn't sound as good as it usually does or that the sound guy didn't know what he was doing. She's a really honest person and it's good to hear what she has to say (usually). I'm also lucky to have a bunch of musician friends, including my roommate Roy Robertson of Denton band Pageantry. I actually just showed him this folksy song for the new album because I knew he'd tell me if it sucked. He's that kind of pal. It's the same way with the band. I'll bring them songs and be like "Is this right? Is this good? Should we keep pursuing it?" I try to create an environment where criticism isn't a personal attack but just a necessary part of the process.

I also think it's important as an artist to be able to self-criticize and filter. You will get a million different and conflicting opinions from the people you know. You can't rely on outside feedback. You have to have a core that you can trust and just believe that what you're doing is good and do it. I'm not afraid to throw songs away or rework them once they've been figured out, but I also try to leave well enough alone and not be too finicky. It's better to just keep working and get better with experience.

(AS) On that, have you ever tossed out a song everyone else liked, but you didn't?

(CM) Yep! There's one I can think of that never got recorded from around Amaranthine times. Just didn't feel like it needed to be on the album, even though the band and friends I played it for liked it. More often than not though, if I don't like a song, nobody hears it to begin with. I just like to edit.

(AS) Many artists talk about musical inspirations, as you have, but what other forms of art inform your music?

(CM) I love that question. Literature is super inspiring to me. I love a good story. Lately I've been really into short stories by Karen Russell and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, magical realism is so groovy. I also just read the Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry, I love how southern and desolate and existential it is. I think a lot of my songs feel that way, lately. Perma-inspirations are T.S. Eliot and Camus. I grew up around a lot of modern art too and I read a lot of Greek myths as a child, I'm still writing about Picasso and Diana, goddess of the hunt. Those things really stick with me. My dad is an amazing artist too, I'm very inspired by his work ethic as much as his art. He always had a day job and then came home and worked until 3 in the morning on circuit bent pieces, sculptures, mini bikes and more.

(AS) When you covered Leonard Cohen's 'Suzanne', I called Cohen a musical blindspot, an influential artist for some reason I'd not listened to for whatever reason. I can think of a few others I've not consumed myself with, the list is massive. Who are your musical blindspots?

(CM) Oh, I have so many! It was really only last year that I really got into a lot of the music I think of as essential now: Patsy Cline, David Bowie, Lou Reed, the Modern Lovers, Brian Eno, Nancy Sinatra, so many others that I should have really been familiar with way sooner. It's like it suddenly occurred to me that I ought to listen to them all, like really listen to them and get to know their work beyond the hits. I started exploring more and actively trying to find new (old) music to hear and be influenced by.

(AS) What's coming up next? Releases/gigs/fests/collaborations. Any news to report?

(CM) Jena (of Sundae Crush / Layer Cake) and I are working on a sad girl themed EP right now. I would say it's 70% done, there's been some back and forth on the tracks since she lives in Seattle and I live in Denton, but it's been such a fun process. I can't wait to share what we've been doing, it's super gloomy and girly and teen. I also have a couple of new cover collaborations in the work, look for those in the next few months. I try and keep busy. I love making music and it's great to have more time to do it more recently. - Aimless Skylarking

"Check it Out: Claire Morales Band"

Denton has given us another beauty, folks (pun intended). Dreamy, melodic, indie-folk rocker Claire Morales has delivered a mind-blowing album, Amaranthine, that will leave you wishing there were more than 10 tracks. The very title of the album gives the listener an idea of what they are in for, as the definition of amaranthine is everlasting, eternally beautiful and unfading. Morales’ vocals and lyrics evoke the kind of longing that leaves one remembering unrequited love and working through what it means to be human, to be an individual in a world filled with both beauty and pain.

Morales’ songs each tell a story, and while that can be said of most music, what stands out about this album is her ability to draw the listener in with the lush vibrancy of her voice. There is an almost 60s-like feel to the way that Morales’ vocals and guitar work blend with Ryan Williams’ bass and Russ Connell’s drum work. Morales uses her incredible vocal range to make each song different, while still maintaining the overall ethereal, nostalgic quality that seems to define the whole album. There is a hazy element to the album reminiscent of being somewhere between dream land and being those first moments when one does not want to wake up just yet for fear of losing the beauty of the dream.

Many of the songs on Amaranthine are, as I've described above, slow and melodic. The songs Lie I Love and Don’t Lose Trace are perfect examples of the vocally-driven folk sound this band is so good at producing. However, Claire Morales’ band shows their folk-rock ability in the beat-driven songs Hemlock and Serious Young Things, proving that this group of talented young musicians is undoubtedly capable of giving the listener several different types of aural experiences in one exceptionally well-rendered and mastered album.

Claire Morales’ album Amaranthine is set to be officially released on Feb. 21, with a release party at The Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios at 409 E. Sycamore St. in Denton at 9 p.m. For those of you who don't want to wait that long to hear them (and you shouldn’ advice is to see them as soon and as often as you can), they will also be performing on Feb. 20 at the Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge at 1311 Lipscomb St. in Fort Worth. To quote Morales in Hemlock, “I can be patient, yes I can,”....but it’s hard! - Ft. Worth Texas Magazine

"Claire Morales Mines Her Inner Perfectionist on "Prettier""

Amid the clatter of diner plates, Claire Morales methodically eviscerates her waffle into equal-sized square morsels, explaining that she's trying to be a "cutting ahead" waffle person instead of a "cut as you go" type. As a graphic designer by trade, it's definitely not the strangest habit she could have adopted as a result. Reluctantly, though, the young singer admits that she might just end up being a figure-it-out-as-you-go type, coming to terms with the perfection in imperfection.

Coincidentally, Morales just today released lead track "Prettier" off her upcoming full-length record Amaranthine. The song weaves around a narrative regarding her childhood mannerisms and propensity for perfection, and is her first time tackling the electric side of songwriting with a full band. With her album coming out mid-February, she's primed to transition from an acoustic act to a tour de force singer-songwriter.

Amaranthine, which means "unfading or everlasting," largely functions as a coming-of-age album for Morales, dwelling on nostalgia from childhood and then deciphering it from the perspective of her older self. This concept results partially from Morales' frequent concern about what her younger self would think of her now, and whether she is becoming someone she would be proud of. For context, she's been performing music for other people since age 13, so she's got a lot to think over.

And "Prettier" is the perfect example of this, as the song rings with an upbeat positivity, but lyrically laments the struggles of trying to be good enough. Morales says the idea comes from several self-imposed bouts of perfectionism, but that in particular she recalls her ceaseless commitment to trying to master visual art as a child. At age seven, she painted dozens of depictions of Madonnas (depictions of Mary holding a wee baby Jesus) in order to get the piece just right. "I know everyone says they were weird as a kid, but I was especially weird," she says, laughing.

Lines from the song depict inner turmoil, trying to compartmentalize things and keep life in order, as she sings, "I've got something awful in me, too/Won't you purge it out?" In the last verse, she even describes the struggle between her mind and body as a war between rivaling colonies, and the song hangs on a note of uncertainty as it comes to a close. As the leading track to her album, it makes sense to create that kind of suspense. But Morales says the song is meant to set up the idea of the album and the coming-of-age progression.

Her transition to using a full band was partially related to her work with Denton band Old Potion, where she gained confidence working with other musicians. With that in mind, she approached her solo material with a newfound reassurance that her ideas could be shared and people would help take it in the direction she had in mind.

"I wanted it to be a certain way, and I was worried other people might not quite see what I had envisioned," she says. "And there were definitely some insecurities, too, wondering if I was even good enough to play with a band."

Adding to her interest in branching out her sound was the input of a peer who mentioned that her songs never quite had a hook to them. Although she never intended to make songs less meaningful, she took the idea to heart that significance and catchiness weren't mutually exclusive qualities. "I think there's something to be said about songs not only having meaning but also being memorable," Morales explains. "That's what I've wanted to gravitate toward."

The release of Amaranthine has a concert paired with it on February 21 at Rubber Gloves, where she'll be performing songs from the album with her band. After the Denton release, she plans to do shows in Fort Worth and Austin to follow-up, and then possibly try to get a record pressed afterward. Between her solo work and Old Potion, Morales has quite a few options ahead, but throughout it all she shows no sign of losing the substance in her work.

"We're planning shows that are farther away, so I'm excited to play in front of new crowds," she says. "Being able to share the songs I've written with new people definitely keeps me excited about what I get to do." - Dallas Observer

"Claire Morales Record Release at the Historic Scoot Inn"

Claire Morales will be bringing her Denton-based outfit to the Historic Scoot Inn this Friday and we really can’t wait. Supporting her will be local americana all-stars the Deer, KUTX’s artist of the month for December 2014, who also released new material recently. Reservations and Moongiant (OK) will be joining the Red Dirt bill of musicians. The evening will serve to usher Morales’ sweeping debut solo release romantically entitled Amaranthine to her southern neighbors here in Austin. Claire and the band make Austin a frequent stop and Friday night will be a gorgeous showcase of sweet country rapture.

Amaranthine sounds like Angel Olsen singing Jenny Lewis. She gets a sweet alt-country growl that warms up this Texas winter. “Waters Getting Low” rollicks in 3/4 time while Claire demonstrates her vocal control, breaking between falsetto and full voice showing worry and ache, longing and nostalgia. Dusty and new at the same time, her voice occupies an anxious in-between-ness of genres that glide from track to track; power pop, doo-wop, and country-gaze fill my L/R channels. Steady chord progressions show maturity from the band and their ability to develop an idea into sonic territory that occupies significant bandwith in an organic blissful state. I find sunlight easily when listening to Amaranthine. The album glows with positivity and forward thinking.

You can stream, or better yet, buy the digital album here at her bandcamp page. CDs will be available to purchase Friday night. Otherwise, we’ll see you Friday. - Pop Press International

"Lone Star Sounds: New Music from Claire Morales"

Resting somewhere near the hazy intersection of shoegaze, folk and rock, Denton-based singer-songwriter Claire Morales’ debut LP Amaranthine bewitches from its opening moments.

Joined by bassist Ryan Williams and drummer Russ Connell, Morales — whose Facebook page reveals she first stepped onto a stage at 13 — utilizes a kind of wounded beauty inherent in her voice (the surging Hemlock is a fine example) to convey vulnerability even as she maintains a slight reserve. The cumulative effect over these 10, lushly realized tracks is a riveting push-pull: Morales sinks the hook deep, singing evocatively of “voices that overlap and beg to be heard over the thunder,” even as she keeps listeners at a remove. Vivid and frequently gorgeous — lose yourself in the gently cascading guitar figure opening Caravan — Amaranthine adds another troubadour of note to the ever-growing North Texas ranks. -

"Disarming and Charming, The Denton Darling: Claire Morales"

It’s Saturday night and Denton is doing that special thing we do. The town is glowing from the inside out as we come together to support the 35 Denton music festival. In this festival local and out-of-town musicians alike are welcomed with open arms. I’m at Banter to watch my long-time pal and Denton native Claire Morales perform with her band. Admittedly, this review will be a bit biased because I adore Claire and her music. What’s a fan-girl to do? But tonight, it’s easy to see that I’m not the only one who has been charmed giddy by Claire’s quiet charisma.

The small bistro is buzzing with fans, friends, and people fresh off the street to check out new music. As soon as sound check ends and the performance begins, the crowd falls in love. I’m especially excited to hear songs from Claire’s newly debuted album, Amaranthine. Amaranthine is the word for a beautiful flower that doesn’t exist, and it’s a perfect title for her new album. Nostalgia and melancholy collide as Claire’s hauntingly beautiful voice sing of wistful longing for things that will never be, and for things that were perhaps never there in the first place. I am reminded of what the sociologists are calling us babes of the 80s and 90s: “The Peter Pan generation”. We are grown-up, we are drifting, and we are wondering where is the cake they promised us? The songs Claire plays from Amaranthine seem to capture a generational mindset of wanderlust. I look around the dark room at the faces that have been arrested by the honesty and the soul of her performance. Listening to her play is like waking up in a strangely familiar place.

Dreamy and effortless, her songs are both a memoir and a declaration of independence from illusion. The instrumentation is bold, yet understated and the lyrics are eloquent. “Burning funeral pyre for a living ghost, I see every once in a while…” As Claire finishes up her set, the room takes a moment to collect itself. Everyone appears to be in a daze- the result of music that speaks to the heart. Amaranthine, Claire’s first album was released this February. With any luck, it will be the first of many more albums to come from. - Sofaking News

"Premiere // “Strange” (Patsy Cline cover) - Jena & Claire"

Two of our favorite ladies have teamed up for a wonderful cover of Patsy Cline. Jena Pyle of Sundae Crush and Layer Cake and Claire Morales are behind this track and Jena shares how it all came together:

“After we recorded this cover, Claire set the cupcake piñata from Layer Cake’s last show on top of my car to put her equipment in. We both joked about forgetting it was up there. We heard a clunk clunk, and the cupcake rolled off the car unharmed after slamming on the ground. This is how Strange by Patsy Cline makes me feel. At first listen, maybe just a cute pop song and seemingly harmless, but when you listen closer, you see the cupcake piñata rolling off the car and your gut wrenches as you watch it fall. Welcome to the sad girls club.” - The Grey Estates

"5 Bands You Missed at NMF8 (Day 2)"

6 p.m. – Claire Morales at Sooner Theatre

There couldn’t have been more than five people in attendance when this early set started, so it felt extremely intimate to sit front row inside the huge theater. Luckily, Denton’s Claire Morales played it like a full house. Her smokey vocals (Chelsey Cope fittingly described them as the offspring of Stevie Nicks and Sharon Van Etten) and capable backing band were enough to make me wish her name was hanging in the marquee of more Oklahoma venues. Come on back, Claire. - News OK


Still working on that hot first release.



Claire Morales began performing when she was 13 years old, playing acoustic gigs at local coffee shops every chance she could. The shows typically paid in cookies and consisted of a lot of old folky covers. After singing in other acts throughout her teen years, she went on to form her own band in 2014, moving from acoustic to electric and adding drums, bass, and lead guitar.

February of 2015 saw the release of Claire's debut album Amaranthine. The record is a collection of dreamy, hazy rock songs centered around childhood, nostalgia, and coming of age. The LP garnered the attention of local publications and became a calling card for the various festivals and out of town shows the band took part in (including 35 DentonNorman Music FestivalOaktopia, and Wildflower Music Fest).

In early 2015, Claire began a collaborative covers project with various musician pals, including: Jena Pyle (Layer Cake / Sundae Crush), Ariel Hartley (Pearl Earl), Rachel Gollay (Gollay) and Dalton Kane (Bashe / Chinaski, the Fury). The project explores a variety of her musical influences from the 60s, featuring songs from muses such as Leonard Cohen, Nancy Sinatra, Patsy Cline, and the Everly Bros. The covers are a fun, quick way to work together with local musicians, get inspired, and stay busy between releases.  

In October of 2015, Morales wrote, recorded, and released Harmony in Hell withDaniel Markham. The LP is halloween themed, sparse, and spontaneous. Beginning with the wild thought of making an album in a month, the duo worked fast to write and record all of the songs together, working late nights and setting up camp in a friend's pool house to get the job done. The result was something raw, lovely, and unexpected. 

Since then, Claire has been writing a collection of original material with Jena Pyle. The two are working between Denton and Seattle, tracking a 5 song EP due to release in late 2016. It's inspired by sad girl music from greats of heartache (think Vashti Bunyan, Sibylle Baier, and Laura Marling). 

Claire Morales is currently recording her second full length album with the band at The Echo Lab with plans to release it in 2017. 

Band Members