“ With Our Heads in the Clouds and our Hearts in the Fields”. What a lovely title for a record. If I didn’t already know the music of Chantal Acda, then I would be very much drawn to this record by the title and the album art work. It really is lovely. People who know me will know that I’m a sucker for good names and art. But, as with all records, good art does not a good album make and it’s the whole package that really matters. Well, I guess it’s the music that really matters, but you know what I mean.
I fell in love with Chantal Acda’s voice when I was introduced to her music by Richard Knox of Gizeh Records. Previous record ‘Polar Life’ was a lovely piece of dreamlike song writing with Acda’s soothing and calming voice and something really new and fresh to me. I absolutely adored the way her vocal was recorded and produced and the fact that the majority of her work is on piano only added to the beauty of the record for me. But let me just say this. Where ‘Polar Life’ was a good album, ‘With our Hearts…’ is simply brilliant. It’s a massive step forward in quality and maturity and should surely propel Acda to bigger and better things musically. With Polar Life she made herself one to watch. With this record she must surely turn heads and grab her musical career by the horns. For this record deserves to be heard and loved. And I mean no disrespect to Rich when I say this but if he can hold on to her for another record and fend off the larger labels then he will be doing very, very well. Make no mistake, for me, this record lays down a marker of how good Sleepingdog are, can be and will be in the future.
Sleepingdog is not only Chantal though. Adam Wiltzie (Stars of the Lid) is her writing partner. It’s a very good partnership because whilst Acda brings the quality songs, Wiltzie brings the sonic landscapes that surround and encapsulate the music, taking them from being simple folk songs to something bigger and more complete. It reminds me very much of the partnership of King Creosote and Jon Hopkins actually. One a stunning song writer, the other a brilliant arranger and composer who helps bring the songs of the other to life, providing them with the perfect backdrop. Their very different approaches to song writing and music come together so, so beautifully on this record.
There is a sadness, a melancholy in much of Acda’s work. The music is without doubt steeped in darkness but it’s a beautiful sadness, if there is such a thing. It’s like she lets out all her pain in her music and because of this there is a real and genuine emotional connection between her and the listener. This is real and raw and gorgeous. ‘Polish Love Song’ is such a heart wrenching piece of music that you can almost feel the tears running down her face as she sings. The sparse piano and gorgeous backdrops created by Wiltzie are the perfect compliment. I mean, I could go through each and every song on this record but I’d be saying the same things over and over again. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. ‘He Loved The World Through His Camera’ being a stand out for sure. But only just. Every track is special.
Make no mistake, this is a great record. It’s a record that deserves to be sold in vast quantities. That deserves to be heard by as many people as possible. It is released on 25th April by Gizeh Records and you can stream it now and buy it on Monday from their website. Another fine release from a fine label.
Sleepingdog take to the road in May to support Low on their European Tour. They will be playing Classic Grand inGlasgowon 17 May, which is my birthday. I plan to be there and it will not be to see Low. There is only one act playing that night that I really want to see. Please do check out Sleepingdog. And enjoy.