What a difference a year makes.
In 2011, British singer-songwriter Alex Clare was dropped from his record label due to disappointing sales of his first album, “The Lateness of the Hour.” Months later, he was working as a real-estate agent in Israel when he got the news: Microsoft wanted to use his song “Too Close” in commercials for the latest version of its Internet Explorer Web browser. By the end of 2012, “Too Close” had sold more than 2 million copies.
The song went on to sell more than 5 million copies, and recently earned Clare and co-writer Jim Duguid an award for Songwriters of the Year from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
Having an enormous international hit is “awesome – really, really special,” Clare, 29, says. “My lifestyle changed quite considerably.”
But while “Too Close” continues to sell, Clare is busy touring and promoting his latest album, “Three Hearts,” which debuted in August. He will bring the tour to Phoenix on Wednesday, Dec. 3, with a show at Crescent Ballroom.
“Three Hearts” reflects the big changes that have taken place in Clare’s life since his first album, namely marriage and fatherhood. The title of the album was inspired by the moment Clare and his wife saw their baby’s heartbeat on an ultrasound for the first time.
“[‘Three Hearts’] is basically an album of thanksgiving, to say thank you for a beautiful wife and daughter,” Clare says. “The album deals mostly with the insecurities of becoming a husband and a father, which are pretty massive. Any man who says he doesn’t have them isn’t being entirely honest with himself. It’s a very scary experience when you realize you have responsibilities that are beyond just your own world. Two other people are depending on you. It’s a huge privilege and an honor, and really, really inspirational.”
Clare is touring through the U.S. and Europe to promote “Three Hearts,” and while musicians are known for the specific and sometimes outlandish requests they make, Clare’s tour requirements are a bit different: As an Orthodox Jew, he won’t play on Shabbat, touch female fans or eat nonkosher food.
Although Clare grew up as a secular Jew in London, he became drawn to a more observant lifestyle in his early 20s, he says.
“My whole life, I had emunah (faith),” he says. “I always davened. I always had a passion for Judaism.”
When he began spending Shabbat with the ultra-Orthodox community in London, he saw a level of happiness and contentment that he found lacking in the people he encountered in the music industry, and he began to study and delve deeper into Judaism.
“It just blows my mind that we have this privilege to connect with the energy source and the power that creates everything in the world. It’s a huge privilege to be part of a people and part of a tradition where we acknowledge that and are connected to that,” he says.
“Judaism is so deep. A taste of understanding of what the universe is all about – Judaism is an incredible tool to do that, to connect to that. I always felt that to an extent, and I decided to take it more seriously.”
And as for keeping kosher on the road, Clare says it’s pretty simple, especially in the U.S.
“Traveling in America is very easy. You have kosher food in most supermarkets, and you have Jewish communities in most cities, so keeping the Sabbath and keeping kosher, it’s really not hard. It’s just a way of life.”
Jewish News has five pairs of Alex Clare tickets to give away. To enter the drawing, send an email with the subject line “Alex Clare” to email@example.com.
Who: Alex Clare with Taylor Barrett
What: ‘Three Hearts’ tour
When: 8:30 p.m. show; doors open at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 3
Where: Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Ave., Phoenix
Tickets: 602-716-2222 or crescentphx.com