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Los Angeles composer and improviser claire rousay plucks sounds and words from daily life and inner monologue, recontextualizing them into something palatable - at times pleasant and meditative, at times scathing and bleak. On her new album wouldn’t have to hurt, rousay spotlights her own struggles with mental health, having battled depression and panic disorder for the majority of her life - “I go long periods feeling numb or empty, managing panic attacks and severe anxiety,” she explains. wouldn’t have to hurt is a benefit album with all proceeds being given to the Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning) young people - it’s rousay’s effort to give back to resources that have helped her in the past.
wouldn’t have to hurt collects three suites that showcase rousay using field recordings, midi instruments, guitars, piano. It also features guest piano and strings from Theodore Cale Schafer. The album begins with side long composition “beth,” a reinterpretation of the Biblical account on Lazarus of Bethany. “This account refers to a restoration to life or some sort of ‘saving,’” rousay explains, “and while I am no longer religious, this story stays with me and maintains - a different but important - application to life.”
The album’s other two songs are more concise, but equally stirring. The shortest song on the album is also an instrumental - “soft as i can” clocks in at just over seven-minutes long, boasting muted guitar plucks backgrounded by Schafer’s lush string and piano contributions - it’s a plaintive musing that evokes hurt and cautious hope. The title track samples YouTuber Madison Van Dine discussing her mental health - “This is not going to get better - what’s the point of living?” she asks. The relation to rousay is palpable.
Van Dine’s painful words eek out between tense strings and electronics - she sounds exasperated, but even a cursory google search yields unexpected, optimistic results - she’s still here, a nurse - willing herself through adversity- and now healing herself and others. On wouldn’t have to hurt, it’s clear rousay is trying to do the same.
released September 14, 2022
Music by claire rousay
Additional piano and electronics on 'soft as i can' by Theodore Cale Schafer
Spoken word by Madison Van Dine on 'wouldn't have to hurt'
Mastered by Andrew Weathers
Photography by Katherine Squier
Design & Layout by Jordan Reyes