Claire Cronin’s “What the Night Is Thinking” is a dreary folk song that tells a dark story. Cronin has a distinct voice and abrasive sound, but the strong narrative theme that is present in every aspect — from her vocal tone to the lyrics and musical composition — is a reason that listeners should dig deep into this track.
Cronin’s warbling vocals are striking and immediately set the tone. This fits the eerie and distinct folk sound of the piece. Her wavering voice sounds more like what you would expect from a typical punk rock band today. These vocals work in the darker context of the song but, they are not jaw-dropping.
The instruments in this drowsy lullaby are slow and soft. The beat moves as fast as a weary traveler, struggling to lift their feet through sinking sands. The metallic guitar carries the song and while a screeching violin that drones on in the background. Together they sound like a country version of a funeral procession song.
While Cronin may not know what the night is thinking, she knows what morbid things happen at night. She sings, “When are you gonna lay down in the undertow?” and “We want bones bleached and scattering.” The lyrics read like a poem or short story, taking listeners on a journey of darkness and death. At the end of this, Cronin is only left with one question while all of this is happening, “Who knows what the night is thinking?”
Cronin’s ability to craft a compelling story throughout every element of her song is what is most impressive on this record. Her vocals are out of the box and the way she quavers can be off-putting, but the unique sound is crucial to her identity. This song is best listened to and judged in the context of the theme rather than just a song.
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