Chantal Acda’s music is always smooth like honey and her folk sentiments are like a chalice of goodness in a world of poison. I first discovered her work with the gorgeous “Let Your Hand By My Guide” which was a beautiful album of solace. “Bounce Back” has more of a complex backbone to it, with more of an intricate folk rock production and arrangement but the talent is just as strong.
The deceptively sweet “Fight Back” is uplifting with Chantal’s rousing lyrics providing a spear head of a lush collection of guitar, percussion and synth arrangements that give way to a beautiful brass rally cry. It’s a rally cry that never get’s boisterous – that’s not Acda’s way – instead its more of a tingling in the spine to prime for an emotional nod. It’s an understated epic and a fantastic way to kick off an album. Another way to describe Acda’s music is wistful and whimsical and “Notice” is that description personified. The lazy sway of the guitars and shimmering echo of the electric twangs make me feel like Summer and Autumn have combined. The organic approach to her production and song writing also adds to that Earthly feeling and “I Need You to Go” may have lots of clever trickery, notably around making Chantal’s voice ghost in and out, but everything is grounded in wood and string. This track is an epic builder that slowly disintegrates into a collage of electric guitar noise and feedback – feeling almost like a constant acceleration but in audio.
Title track “Bounce Back” has a dark country vibe hiding behind the echoing tom drums and isolated vocal. Chantal’s voice is interesting because she always sounds like she’s on the tip shouting at you, but the volume and vocal push is always quite steady – but pointed. It makes you sit up and listen. After the percussive outro solo “Endless” brings us into a dreamy guitar and vocal ballad. The acoustic and electric guitar beautifully entangle each other and the soft atmospherics behind everything give a helpless but comforting vibe. “Our Memories” is a really bitter-sweet track and I fell in love with its seemingly ever rising chord structure which when played against a weary but optimistic Acda talking about those fleeting moments of brain flashes – its memory and tear inducing if you’ve had some wine beforehand [reviewers confession]. “Stay” is a seven and a half-minute sparse number. Chantal sounds like she’s singing into a vacuum tube as she sounds really different here – and the acoustic guitar is really up against the ear. It’s a deliberate and pondering track and its simple melody leaves no room for hiding when confronting an issue. “These Terms” reminds me mildly of Beth Orton when she adds in some synth backdrops to her music, but here the synths that rule are where an electric guitar di
stortion is added onto Acda’s voice and the song gradually gets dirtier (noise wise) over time. It’s a great audio statement on the lyrical topic and one which comes to a zen close with the meditative synth and drum loops of “Valis”.
“Bounce Back” is a wonderfully formed album. Every track is fully formed, thought out and often several segments to them. It’s a masterclass in how to lull someone into a space of comfort and emotion, and then sing them some home truths about the world whilst in lullaby mode. Superb.
Recommended Track : Our Memories