I’ll be honest: I don’t know a damn thing about (apparently British) songwriter Michael Clark. It’s unlikely that you do either. If you’d like, you can use your favourite search engine to try and dig up some more details, but I’m fairly confident that venture will be as fruitless for you as it was for me. So let’s just relax and take a listen to “Something To Be Won”, shall we?
Clark’s soundcloud (which I first stumbled upon by way of my always astute editor Charlotte) is a veritable treasure trove of undiscovered sad bastard alternative, and “Something To Be Won” is a highlight. There’s a lot of music being recorded in bedrooms and basements these days, but it’s rare that it actually sounds that way. That’s not the case here; you can hear every accidental dead note, every slide along the strings. Hell, you can hear Clark breathing in the beginning of the song. These imperfections aren’t particularly distracting, however. In fact, they make the combination of Clark’s voice (an affecting near-falsetto somewhere between Elliott Smith and José González) and unusual acoustic chord voicings all the more potent.
“Something To Be Won” will draw you in long before you can write it off as amateurish. It may mesmerise you, as it did me. It may leave you wondering how a gifted songwriter can remain so unknown. It may leave you wondering if this seclusion is by design. And it will definitely leave you wondering where the hell that trumpet came from.