• ATC SCM7 V3 speakers
  • Chord Electronics Hugo M Scaler with Qutest (dual BNC and powered by a battery pack)
  • Chord Electronics TToby stereo amplifier
  • PS Audio Sprout100 as a preamp
  • JL Audio Fathom F110 V2 subwoofer
  • Innuos Zenith SE Mk.2 music server

The MQA version off Tidal (first unfold) sounded a bit too thin and elevated. Like something I would hear from some oversampling done with software. Once I swapped for the 44.1kHz/16-bit, all was good in the hood. The warmth and density come back. Much improved timbre as well. 

The Artist

Unlike some, I enjoy covers of popular songs by other artists. Many times, I’ve found they’re better than the original artist. One of my recent favorite female vocalists is the 24-year-old Pinay singer/songwriter, Chlara

British-born Filipina singer / songwriter Chlara (born Chlara Isobel Magtultol) labeled as Philippines acoustic songbird, Chlara spent the early years of her life living in England before moving to the Philippines at the age of nine. Her father Cesar who passed away when Chlara was only two years old was a music lover and left with Chlara his love of music.

From the age of three Chlara was already singing and was very much influenced by the music that was constantly played at home, listening to Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Air Supply, The Carpenters, Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston and Celine Dion.

After moving back to the Philippines, Chlara’s mum Gina enrolled her into a few singing schools, While regularly joining the school singing programs and plays Chlara also began playing the guitar at the age 11, learning from his brother and with her own self study, she would watch & learn from videos on YouTube.

Before starting college Chlara had already started writing her own songs. Growing up all Chlara ever wanted to do was sing and have the world hear her songs and now is fully focused to reach her dreams having signed a long term management and recording agreement with Evolution.

She was featured in evosound’s album Voices of Love together with the finest female vocals featuring Susan Wong, Olivia Ong, Julienne Taylor, Emi Fujita, Stacey Kent, Katie Melua, Chantal Chamberland with her version of Lionel Richie’s Stuck on You.

The Music

  • True Colours
    • The midrange grain and sibilance is real on this track but those leading edges from the keyboard have a presence and warmth that never leaves the track. It almost sounds like a full-size piano. A beautiful track regardless.
  • Stay with Me
    • There are two acoustic guitars in this track. You should hear each individually, the one on the left with a more subtle and lighter strum while the acoustic guitar on the right being more present and melodic. They layer out and play with wonderful harmony.
    • Her voice is still a little stretched on this track but the ambient cues are clearly present. 
  • Follow Me
    • The snaps sound like there’s way too much bone on the crack but voices don’t sound bad. I’d still prefer a bit more density. 
    • The beauty of this track is the contrast between the performers. I love the perspective and busier rhythm that’s laid out. Crisp drumstick snaps, deeply-seated background vocals, and vibrant guitar fretwork.
  • Wonderwall / Sorry
    • My favorite track off the album. It’s immediately more intimate and I think gives a better idea of Chlara’s vocal range and technique. This is especially noticeable midway when she transitions to Wonderwall. You hear more of her emotion and physical exertion.
    • This is also one of the more coherent tracks on the album. The dual acoustic guitars sound properly space and align with the continuity of the vocals. It sounds “closer to the body” while allowing her voice to extend freely into the recording space.
    • Kudos to the sound engineers who worked on this track.

It looks like all of these recordings were done in the same space surrounded by dampening drapes. I noticed, for most tracks, there seems to be a layer of vibrancy and energy. Compare Wonderwall / Sorry and This Love with the rest of the recordings and you’ll hear what I’m saying. Personally, I feel these two tracks do more justice to the performers’ talent. There are better coherence and tone. The other recordings seem to thin out instruments and voices and introduce a little bit of sibilance and edge. That said, Follow Me does strike a nice balance between clarity and body.

Interestingly enough, I noticed the videos for these two tracks were done with only two performers and the rest of the instruments were no where to be seen. Perhaps this could’ve accounted for the tonal differences? (shrug)

Final Thoughts

Overall, I really enjoyed the intimate atmosphere of this recording. It’s gentle…yet sweet. Those tight reverberations off her vocals and tactile and feathery shine off cymbals are just a tiny part of it.

I do wish the tonality of the tracks were more consistent with the aforementioned tracks (warmer and fuller) but nevertheless I’m still able to appreciate the amazing talent of this young singer.

The album does a wonderful job outlining Chlara’s vocal prowess and talent. With over 26 million streams, 3 million fans – in over 65 countries… she’s obviously singing to the hearts of many – including my own.

Be sure take a listen!