Release Date: March 3rd, 2015
Label: Star House Collective
To refresh your memory Aqua Alta is the supergroup of Jenn Grant, Charles Austin (Superfriendz) and Graeme Campbell. They picked a very appropriate bandname as their latest album Dreamsphere does sound quite tropical at times, pulling similarities to Canadian colleagues Young Galaxy in Shapeshifting.
Though Jenn Grant’s voice is always beautiful, with Aqua Alta it sounds more confident, happy and playful, which is a slightly weird thing to say when there is more reverb in this than on her own songs. The keys and syths provide glistening undertones in songs like “Polar” and “Blue is the Rain”. The latter also twangs in vocals and guitar parts making it seem like a mix of futuristic country, if that’s even a genre. Austin does describe the band’s sound in their bio as “country music for aliens” so I guess he was right.
Some songs take on untraditional song structure (especially for Grant). “Epic Sweep” is a good example, there isn’t really a strong chorus to grasp onto. It’s more of an ongoing story where you don’t know what’s on the next page and at times it sounds like neither do they. This leads to the middle sounding a bit more like filler. “Dream the Day After” is soothing, but a little unnecessary. However the following “Coral Castle” brings you back to reality gently like waves, grasping you with the repetition of the line “He was crying.” Afterwards they let you drift away with “Sparse”, which features only vocals “ooo” over more dreamy production.
The album’s last three tracks are arguably the strongest: the lively “Norwegian Jewel”, the watery bliss of “Silvery Tones” and the closer “You Were A Kid Too”, which features something that almost sounds like an owl’s hoot. Listening to the album is a little bit like riding waves, at times it’s gentle and you sail through not thinking, but other times words and lines strike you and you try to grasp them before it is over.