Born in Holland, based in Belgium, Chantal Acda is an ethereal voiced experimentalist singer-songwriter who’s also known under the moniker of Sleepingdog under which she’s recorded three albums, the most recent two with Adam Wiltzie (Stars of the Lid, A Winged Victory For The Sullen). The Sparkle In Our Flaws is her second studio recording under own name and finds her working with fellow sonic experimentalist Peter Broderick (and his sister Heather), Shahzad Ismaily (a diverse collaborator who has worked with the likes of Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Jolie Holland, Laura Veirs, Bonnie Prince Billy and Sam Amidon) and Icelandic musician, producer and member of the Bedroom Community collective and label, Valgeir Sigurdsson.
She’s a self-confessed admirer of Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis and sports Philip Glass influences which feeds into this airy, delicate and simultaneously glacial and warm collection of songs about relationships and belongings that are both dreamily soporific and infused with a keen awareness of life unfolding.
Named in part after “The Sparkle” Studio in Oregon where it was recorded and the inherent vulnerability within the songs (there’s a wealth of images conjuring fragility), it opens with Homes, a simple, spare arrangement of a circling synth drone and quietly puttering drums behind her breathy, crystal pure vocals. She sings of how you home always travels with you in your head and heart and how we are always connected to our roots. That we also sometimes need to get away from the place to which we are always drawn back partly informs The Other Way, her folksy delivery (she’s been likened to This is The Kit) backdropped by another water rippling syth line and haunted by a muted, melancholic saxophone.
Elsewhere connections and relationships inform the lyrics, a sharing of souls, (two songs talk of sharing breath, others of games or embracing someones flaws and all), the music swelling on Everything, hinting at a celtic warmth shared on the title track, introducing pizzicato strings for the slow march rhythm of Up and Down, skittering on the celebratory Still We Guess (“we broke the rules and danced all night again”) with its violin solo or conjuring jazz, folk and pop colours on Games with its repeated “don’t go” chorus lines.
Ethereal and also full of swirling passions and whispered longings, it’s an intoxicating, calming and beguiling journey through the beauty of our imperfections.
Review by: Mike Davies
As recently premiered on Folk Radio UK you can stream the full album below:
Released 25 September 2015 via Glitterhouse Records
Photo Credit: Terry Magson