When I found out Clarissa Cupéro was only nineteen years old, I did a double take. Her gritty alto is substantial, forceful; it speaks of experience. Cupéro, a New York state native, is currently a student at Sienna College, and in addition to taking classes, she performs her songs for campus benefits (including concerts to aid student organizations such as Students Active for Ending Rape). She is still unsigned to a label, but self-released her self-titled EP last year through The Cutting Room in Greenwich Village.
This bilingual album is pervaded by driving rhythms, aggressive yet playful guitar riffs, and of course, Cupéro’s meaty vocals. The influence of classic rock artists is evident in the guitar-centric instrumentals, but her self-assured lyrics make it her own. The first track, “I’ve Got Your Number,” prompted me to dance around my apartment the first time I popped the disc into the player. The lyrics speak of experience beyond her years with a confidence and independence that is believable:
I’ve got your number, baby, I’m not digging the way you’re steering me, You’re changing me... I believe in what I stand for, Dignity, oh can’t you see?
This track, which has elicited unexpected success, is this generation’s cure for the epidemic of dependence women often feel towards any lover that will give them attention. Cupéro is strong enough to recognize a toxic relationship, and joyfully maintains her independence, asserting her agency.
Her love for Colombian rock artist Juanes is evident in the track “La Sombra”, whose Latin flair shows her flexibility as a musician to combine various styles, and once again, make this self-proclaimed wallflower get the urge to dance. Cupéro lays down a contemplative piano track on “Life is a Moment,” which along with the addition of strings, adds a thoughtful depth to the EP. “You’ll Never Be There” treats the age-old ailment of unrequited love with a positive, almost flippant attitude; as the last track, this piece rounds out the album nicely, leaving the listener with Clarissa’s sense of self and empowerment.
All six tracks exhibit an aspect of Cupéro’s resilient, albeit human personality, and display her lovely voice in concert with riffs that are simultaneously catchy and classic. I definitely look forward to hearing more from this young woman in the future. Her drive and tenacity got her noticed by two producers in the small Greenwich Village recording studio, so I am certain that as she matures and finishes her studies, she will have more music to share, and won’t stop until she gets the big break she deserves.