The Graham Weekly Album Review #1783
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Chloe Albert: Dream Catcher -- by George Graham
(Independent release As broadcast on WVIA-FM 8/13/2014)
We are certainly nowhere near experiencing a shortage of good emerging singer-songwriters. They seem to appear from just about everywhere, and that's a good thing with the diversity of the talent adding to the richness of the genre. And they are generally a lot more than just folkies.
This week we have the latest album from a talented emerging Canadian singer-songwriter from Edmonton, Alberta, Chloe Albert. Her new recording is called Dream Catcher.
The product of a musical family and a musical education, she nevertheless had not performed much in her youth and, in attending MacEwan University’s music program in the vocal department, found that getting out in front of people the more difficult part. But she became one of those inveterate musicians hoping to make it in some way, doing things like the traditional day jobs and, thanks to a more enlightened cultural situation north of the border, applying for provincial and city grants for developing artists. Her first album was partly financed that way, after a series of auditions, and her new one has similar assistance from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.
Interestingly, her first album, Dedicated State was made in 2008 but only released south of the border in the US in early 2013. Dedicated State showed a well developed and very appealing folk-influenced artist with thoroughly tasteful musical backing on her recording, which we reviewed here last year. At the time of the US release of Dedicated State, she was already working on the new album, and now Dream Catcher is out.
The new CD features some of the same musicians and studio staff. Most of this album was produced by multi-instrumentalist Stew Kirkwood, though the producer of her previous album, Louis Sedmak also appears. The number of players on the album is rather small, but it's generally quite tastefully done, though this CD has a somewhat more produced sound than her last album. Sometimes it can hint at contemporary Nashville production. But it remains relatively understated. Lyrically the album is somewhat similar to her last album, with most of the songs being about relationships in various forms of joy and regret. She does not add any great insight to her subjects, but the generally positive messages give the album potentially wide appeal.
Leading off is a piece called Joy which is well-named. It's a very appealing musical celebration of being with one's significant other. <<>>
The other side of a relationship is the subject of Little White Lies, lamenting a breakup and hoping it would be repaired. It's one of two non-original songs on the album, this one composed by one Craig Owen Jenkins. <<>>
Somewhat more contemplative is a song called Merry-Go-Round which a kind of encouragement to someone facing difficulties. <<>>
There are some songs on this album that have potential commercial pop appeal, though the arrangements on the album are a bit too subtle for that territory. Say Goodbye is a kind of lyrically obvious song with a memorable "hook" that sounds as if it could be made into a hit in Nashville or in the pop world. <<>>
There is one rather lyrically distinctive song on the album, Across the Ocean which seems to be about a ship in 1765 bringing slaves to the new world. <<>>
Most of the album features more upbeat production and essentially full band, often created by overdubbing parts played by producer Stew Kirkwood. But there is one track that is mainly just Ms. Albert and one guitar, an electric guitar, with some atmospheric keyboard parts. The track is called Promise. The result is a folky song of encouragement. <<>>
On the other hand, Where Did I Go Wrong, another song about a breakup, gets the full band electric treatment, which also lends it a bit of a Nashville aura. <<>>
Edmonton, Alberta singer-songwriter Chloe Albert, on her new second album Dream Catcher has fully lived up to the promise of her impressive 2008 debut album, which was just released in the US last year. She is a very appealing vocalist, and on the new album, more of her songs have the kind of melodic hooks that could lend themselves to being potential hits in the commercial world. But by those standards her album could be described as somewhat understated. While many of her songs cover the familiar territory of relationships in various states of celebration to regret, they give the album a kind of universal appeal. And she does include one song about historical events.
Our grade for sound quality is about a B+. The mix is well-handled and the vocals have an appealing sound, generally free from studio effects. But we'll deduct points for the usual bugaboo of too much volume compression, with the mindless quest for loudness undermining the dynamics of the music. Her previous album was better in this respect.
Canada has given us a lot of notable singer-songwriters from the 1960s on to the present. Chloe Albert's new album underscores the contention in my review of her debut that she should be counted among them.
(c) Copyright 2014 George D. Graham. All rights reseved.
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