Claire Whitehead’s new album is straight out of Thelma & Louise
Canadian folk-country songstress Claire Whitehead whisks listeners on a journey with her latest project, Thelma: A Country Opera.
And if the name sounds familiar, it should. Claire built it through an interpretation of the character Thelma in Thelma & Louise, churning a fable into a nine-track release about the fearlessness of the human spirit — featuring album closer, “No Right Way, Louise.”
“Thelma: A Country Opera is a ‘coming-of-agency’ story,” Claire explained. “It’s about the transformation of self and relationships when someone becomes disillusioned with the rules of our world.”
As a storyteller, Claire commiserates with the protagonist through a series of emotion-driven songs that speak to Thelma’s internal journey, and the album’s live performance features video clips from the film to cue songs.
For its part, “No Right Way, Louise” chronicles Thelma’s ongoing dedication to her best friend. Claire’s delicate but piercing vocals churn out a near-plea to Louise as our heroine succumbs to the inevitability of failure to live a life of restraints and rules. “And they’ll chase us down,” Claire coos, “And they’ll spit from a truck. So hand me that gun, cuz I’m all out of luck.”
To tie the song together, Claire has self-produced a subsequent music video — a first in her lengthy career.
“To make this video, I tried to celebrate the song’s theme of prioritizing female relationships, while working under the constraints of the pandemic,” she said. “This was the first official music video I’ve made or released, and I did it completely DIY on camera phones and editing on my laptop.
“I was lucky enough to have my sister, Anne, to film the footage and a friend and vocalist from London, ON, Imogen Wasse, who sings live with me and fosters a lot of positive energy in our performances.
“The result has me feeling comfortable being silly on camera, while capturing the power of women working creatively together to make great things.”
For this track and album, Claire’s transfixing vocals, well-established melodic harmonies and authentic country twang transport the listener into an entirely different place and time. “No Right Way, Louise” has Thelma declaring the final lessons of her journey, celebrating friendship, love, and resistance to the wrongs of our world.
A multi-instrumentalist and veteran songwriter, Claire has a power to transport you into the character’s story. She urges you to let go of reality for just a moment, while you walk Thelma’s path with her.
And as her journey unravels track by track, Claire grants the listener permission to read the finest print of detail on the most sacred part of a woman’s heart — her spirit. Claire’s ability to fully immerse herself into the arms of Thelma’s character and expose her layers far beyond what the silver screen wanted us to watch is a testimony to this songstress’ uncanny ability to transform into whomever she needs to be to get the song right.
“No Right Way, Louise” and Thelma: A Country Opera are available now.