Philly singer and songwriter Alec Ounsworth has led his project Clap Your Hands Say Yeah through many shapes and forms over the past decade and a half, from the lush five-piece that sprung out of the Brooklyn art-rock world in 2005 to the tight trio that performed in WXPN studios this week. This singular band has essentially been several bands, with several degrees of accessibility, but it’s always been Ounsworth’s voice at the center, and on last year’s New Fragility, he’s open and vulnerable more than ever before.
In this week’s Key Studio Session, we find Ounsworth backed by bassist Todd Erk and drummer Jonas Osterele, close Philly friends who have made up the CYHSY live band since 2017. The songs they showcase from the new album are propulsive and poppy, full of verve and life despite severe lyrical undercurrents — reacting to a school shooting in “Thousand Oaks,” reflecting on lost intimacy in “Where They Perform Miracles,” and resolving to take chances anew on life and love on the title track.
The performance is unfussy, yet profoundly impactful; where CYHSY once built layers upon layers of instrumentation to soundtrack abstract and serpentine lyrical puzzles, Ounsworth has honed a less-is-more craft, and is cutting deeper emotional connections with it. Watch the band play live in the videos below, and see them in person at Philadelphia’s Concourse Live on Friday, November 11th; tickets and more information can be found at the WXPN Concerts and Events page.