Named after a William S. Borroughs character, Clem Sniden (Eef Barzelay) first emerged from Boston as a three-piece in the early 1990s, and the group would go on to become a cult and critical favorite, picking up high profile fans from Bon Iver to Ben Folds over the course of three decades and more than a dozen studio albums. NPR highlighted the Israeli-born Barzelay as “the most underrated songwriter in the business today, with a sneakily firm grasp on poignancy and humor,” while Rolling Stone hailed his songwriting as “soulful and incisive,” and The New Yorker praised his music’s “soothing melodies and candid wit.”
Forever Just Beyond, Barzelay’s stunning new album under the Clem Snide moniker, may just be the most miraculous of them all. Produced by Scott Avett, the record is a work of exquisite beauty and profound questioning, a reckoning with faith and reality that rushes headlong into the unknown and the unknowable. The songs here grapple with hope and depression, identity and perception, God and the afterlife, humanizing thorny existential issues and delivering them with the intimate, understated air of a late-night conversation between old friends. Avett’s production is similarly warm and inviting, and the careful, spacious arrangement of gentle guitars and spare percussion carves a wide path for Barzelay’s insightful lyrics and idiosyncratic delivery.