Chantel Van T’s debut solo album We’re Still Running came out in 2015 – which goes to show how long Van T’s solo recording endeavours have been sitting idle. She herself has been far from idle though, with Diamond Thug sailing through the scene at a rapid pace over the last few years – but it’s good to hear her entirely on her own two legs again.
Nicalochan is the product of a serendipitous encounter with Danish producer Anders Christopherson (of WSLS Records) and a fever-dream of a recording process over two Berlin summers. The result is a sweeping 40-minute exploration of indie-folk, pivoted off the influence of the likes of Phoebe Bridgers and Tyler Ramsey: a nuanced and stilted conglomeration of emotion put to music.
She charts a course from disruptive forces through childhood, to the trials and tribulations of growing into womanhood, and every nook and cranny in between. She lays her heart on her sleeve in poetic lyricism and a sly combination of strings, acoustics and synths to put force behind them.
For the most part, Nicalochan builds its substance around fairly typical underground folk perambulations which often hint at the tendencies of The Lumineers or even Regina Spektor – but where she really sets herself apart here is with unsettling, almost theatrical rhythm-rooted trajectory of the titular track, as well as the similar intensity of “Petrichor” to drive her point home.
In between she weaves fragile, lilting, gossamer folk tales of love and loss and melancholia – before wrapping up on a beautifully constructed ode to coming home after a long trip. And that’s just what this album feels like.