Musician and multi-instrumentalist Chase Tremaine is on a mission. The goal? To champion local independently made art. His method? A ten-song slice of pop/rock by the name Accidental Days. Topping his tremendously catchy sophomore album, Development & Compromise, was going to be a tall order for this reviewer, but I'm excited to report that Tremaine has upped his game yet again. In fact, at a tight 38 minutes, you may just find yourself in the mood for several listens in a row. Not only is Accidental Days similarly catchy, but it's also his most cohesive work yet, while remaining similarly eclectic. To this reviewer's ears, the difference here is that the fat has been trimmed, leaving nary a need to hit the skip button. So, where albums Unfall and D&C before it went for the new artist finding his sound see-if-this-works approach, Accidental Days is the sound of an artist fully confident in his sound and capabilities.
Firing on all cylinders from the get-go, "One Day" features the guitar riffing for which he's becoming increasingly known, while drawing to mind the sound and spirit of Weezer. "Distracted" comes next, and though it's not a favorite musically for this listener, it serves the album well as the second song, bridging to the meat of the album where things change pace and shift into other genres. Previously initiated listeners should recognize a similarity in the title of his song "Wired Side of Content" from D&C with track three, "Tired Side of Content." It's a highlight with its sly callback and desperately needed message.
Four additional tracks of note are the shimmering and acoustic-strummed "Settled in the Unsettled," which also features the piano skills of Theo MacMillan of bluegrass duo Theo & Brenna. Another standout is the incredible hook in the vocal-stacked "Middle of My Words," which was the first song I became obsessed with. Next is the tenderly contemplative "Heart Reset," and my overall favorite song of the album, "Choose." The latter has a propulsive country shuffle that echoes Bird & the Bee Sides era Relient K that I find particularly satisfying. Also, I wanted to highlight a favorite musical moment of the record making sure to mention the outro piano flourishes of guest artist Nick Schroeder on "Gloriously Mundane." It's a beautiful moment that bleeds right into "Settled in the Unsettled" perfectly. Lastly, Tremaine goes out on a high note with the trumpet-drenched closer, courtesy of Brendan Doorman on "New Creation Gray." It's a surprising-in-a-good-way moment that threatens to bring another wave of ska in its glorious wake, beginning and ending the album on equally high notes.
Lyrically, I found Chase's headspace relatable with sentiments from "Settled in the Unsettled like, "I can't use science to pretend that all can be known/Or heap up all my stuff, sit down and call it a throne/So why did I try to get settled in the unsettled?" This is the cry of one who has lived a little life and is understanding the folly of clinging to a certainty where there is only shifting sand. Additionally, the theme of surrendering control pops up again in "Choose," which stands out as he opines, "Can I trust you'll see me through?/Surrender is a funny thing/Nothing in my hands I bring." Surrendering our plans for God's is never easy, but always worth it in the long run. I think Chase captures the angst of that decision expertly.
Also, the final words of the beautiful message in "Tired Side of Content," might be long but are worth quoting: "True rest is not found in bed/or made up inside our head/We find it in Jesus' yoke/when we let Him bear our load/He can spend us all He wants/though our bodies wear the cost/fine joy in the crazy claim/Lise our lives, we'll call it gain/this is where my soul finds rest/on the tired side of content." Here, Tremaine contrasts the exhaustion of chasing contentment in content found on D&C's "Wired Side of Content" with the beauty of being spent for Christ's sake in "Tired Side of Content." It's a clever little play on words that shouldn't obscure the depth of meaning for all of us tempted by the trappings of endless scrolling versus selfless serving. This is a reminder I need often. Overall, the lyrical themes of the album act like a four-way intersection. There's faith, doubt, control, and surrender wrapped into the relational journey of Accidental Days, and it's quite the ride.
A close look at the cover art, his most spiritually focused lyrics to date, the track-to-track flow, and the hooks that litter the tracklist all add up to an artist clearly into the details of making a complete album. It bears mentioning that except for three guest musicians contributing to the songs previously noted, Tremaine wrote and played every instrument you hear on Accidental Days. While there are certainly standout songs fit for many genres of playlists, this is undoubtedly an album best experienced as a whole. Commendably, Chase continues to add to an impressive discography with no signs of slowing his prolific creative output. When I say this is a dark horse album in the top ten albums of the year conversation, I promise it's not hyperbole. Do yourself a favor and tune into Accidental Days with your full attention. I truly don't think you'll be sorry you did.- Review date: 3/8/23, written by Josh Balogh of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: None
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