In the Cafe Bar
Currently based in Belgium, Dutch-born Chantal Acda (b. 1978) has worked under the Sleepingdog moniker since 2006, making three acclaimed albums that closed on the ‘With Our Heads in the Clouds and Our Hearts in the Fields’ (2010) album for which she collaborated with Adam Wiltzie (Stars of the Lid, A Winged Victory For The Sullen), and touring extensively both in Europe and North America.
Also playing in various other formations (Isbells, True Bypass, Marble Sounds) had made her conscious of the patterns that we all, as humans, share in. So, she sought out kindred spirits with whom she might record an album filled with freedom and intensity, and who were conscious of the patterns we so often fall back on. One of the first to cross her path was inventive German pianist and producer Nils Frahm. When, shortly thereafter, multi-instrumentalist Peter Broderick (known from his solo work on labels such as Bella Union and Erased Tapes and from his work with a.o. Efterklang) and Shahzad Ismaily (regular collaborator of a.o. Lou Reed, Tom Waits and Bonnie Prince Billy) also stumbled into the picture, she instantly knew that these were the people with whom she wanted to record her first real solo record. What began as a journey ended in a wonderful record – one wherein all musicians were able to find their place and, together, with great warmth, tell their nine-song story. ‘Let Your Hands Be My Guide’ (released in 2013).
When it came to touring around this release, the main challenge Chantal was facing was how to bring these songs live. The musicians that helped her record the album were both genius and very specific, and it was hard to recreate that same sound on stage with a different band. So she decided to step away from the album sound and employ the same vision of freedom towards the live set-up, surrounding herself with musicians that were able to bring their own magic to the table and transform her music into a new and refreshing whole by interpreting the songs rather than recreating them, and allowing her and us to experience the songs in a different way. These unique live versions as performed with her touring band –Alan Gevaert (dEUS, Trixie Whitley) on bass, Gaetan Vandewoude (Isbells) on guitar and Eric Thielemans (Jozef Dumoulin Trio, Lidlboi, Tape Cuts Tape) can be savoured on the album ‘Chantal Acda – Live In Dresden’ which appeared as a limited edition in 2014.
After recording ‘Let Your Hands Be My Guide’ Chantal instantly knew that the bond that she experienced with Peter Broderick and Shahzad Ismaily was one to last for a lifetime. So it was compulsive to turn to them again for her new album ‘The Sparkle In Our Flaws’, which she had written in-between touring on the first album, and on which she wanted to further explore the musical freedom she felt while playing with them. Besides Peter and Shahzad, you will also hear contributions from Valgeir Sigurdsson, Heather Woods Broderick, Niels Van Heertum and Eric Thielemans.
“An album of warm textures and mystic atmospheres” – 4 stars
“Sweet vulnerabilty…Perfectly flawed” – 8/10