Review by Erika Severyns
Listening to Clever Girls’ ‘Stonewall’ feels like having a friend whisper in your ear at a party where you feel like a complete outsider.
It’s not only the lyrical quality of the song that pulls you in, with the line “I don’t feel as good as you” hitting me right in my gut with its sheer honesty. It’s the rawness of the vocal that delivers the real punch.
The front-person Diane Jean describes recording the vocal in one take:
“I woke up after a near all-nighter at the studio, and without speaking a word, I recorded it directly from my sleeping bag… literally”.
‘Stonewall’ is one of the tracks from the upcoming album Constellations, a self-exploratory collection of songs written shortly after Diane Jean came out of the closet as a queer and gender-nonconforming person. The song deals with the expectations set in relationships for those who are assigned female gender at birth. Diane talks about emotional labour and the overexertion that’s expected of those who identify as women, which is why they wanted the vocals to sound drained, exposed, defeated.
“’Stonewall’ is really my own anthem of rebellion – against my own perfectionism and against the constant inner monologue that tells me to adapt to others’ needs and expectations,” Diane Jean explains.
It’s not an anthem that you yell along to while nobody is listening. It’s the anthem you listen to for a secret dash of confidence while hiding your earphones in the sleeve of your pullover in a classroom of bullying teenagers, or while sitting on the bathroom floor after a long cry. It’s not an anthem that riles you up, but one that makes you go inward, to listen to an inner voice that’s not quite yours and not quite Diane’s, to a world where the two blend and you find you’re not alone after all.