Diane Cluck – Boneset

written by: February 27, 2014
Album-Art-for-Boneset-by-Diane-Cluck Release Date: March 4, 2014


Boneset, Diane Cluck’s first album since 2006, is like a welcoming tune pouring out of a haunted house, projected from behind drawn shades.

Her songwriting recalls a pensive sensibility similar to Laura Marling, equally fragile but more esoteric. It offers a maturity on par with some of Joni Mitchell’s musings and content, but is delightfully rougher around the edges. Cluck’s texturing is stark, but the songs feel full nonetheless; what Boneset might lack in length or elaboration, it makes up for in intensity.

The majority of the eight tracks find Cluck emitting her soft, warbling voice alongside acoustic guitars that circle minor chords and pentatonic progressions with a folksy flair. Songs like “Why Feel Alone” are tinged with an air of Eastern influence in the droning instrumentation, with Cluck’s nearly fearless voice breaking pleasantly as she leaps from note to note, like taking the stairs two steps at a time.

She spins tales and speaks to us as though she knows, deeply and intimately, something crucial that we’re still struggling to see.

Cluck displays her familiarity with an “otherness” through vivid storytelling. She is fluent in the ethereal and seems able to view earthly, sensual conflicts and feelings through a wide scope.

“One must be brave to unwind/and I am not afraid to be kind/Do I know? Yes I do/how pain follows you when you won’t give in to gentler ways shown to you,” she sings on the nearly a cappella “Not Afraid To Be Kind.” Her manner is wise and her voice flutters over the notes like a bird as she gently compels another to look upon the bigger picture.

Cluck is confident, yet acknowledges the change she has undergone and might still be in the throes of. Cleverly and without hesitation, the listener is guided through a healing process that alternates between anger, resolution, and maybe self-destruction.

On the chorus of “Content To Reform,” she narrates, “I die and I die/discarding my skulls/crushed into powder and spun into bowls/Content to reform and then break again.”

Dark and flirting with the mystical, much of the ground Cluck covers on Boneset is foggy and shrouded in mystery.

In “Heartloose,” the most tender track, Cluck pulls back the veil on her surprise at the foreign feeling of affection forming in her heart. In her sweetly reluctant and macabre manner, she compares her weeping to that of a blister, framing her ribs as rungs to be climbed if one wishes to come inside.

Boneset may take a few listens to grab hold of the audience’s interest. String accompaniment gives the record a chamber-type ambience, and the album sounds as if it were performed in one seamless go. These qualities can relegate Cluck’s stylized performances into a more esoteric category; some of the depths she offers may seem too murky for the more winsome or detached ear.

Whether it references a collection of bones or the process by which an appendage or piece of the skeleton is set after a break, Cluck’s first album in eight years is concise and as poignant as you’ll allow it to be.

Humoring the songwriter and following her through the movements could reward the listener with advice on how to set the wounds you may not have known you suffered. One may not feel a connection to her content immediately, but sailing above those depths will still offer an intimate exchange.

Diane Cluck – Boneset tracklist:

  1. “Maybe A Bird”
  2. “Content To Reform”
  3. “Draw Me Out”
  4. “Not Afraid To Be Kind”
  5. “Why Feel Alone”
  6. “Trophies”
  7. “Heartloose”
  8. “Sara”