This Chad Valley article was written by Adam Jones, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Macon Oxley
Hugo Manuel, better known by his stage name, Chad Valley, has released his second studio album, ‘Entirely New Blue’. Manuel was originally the front-man of the Oxford-based band Jonquil, but decided to pursue a solo career under the Chad Valley moniker. Between 2010 and 2012, he proceeded to release two EPs and his debut album, ‘Young Hunger’.
It has been 3 years since his previous release, and the time has allowed Chad Valley to develop as an artist and as a person. In its essence, ‘Entirely New Blue’ functions as a break-up album. Many of these songs were inspired by the breakdown of Manuel’s relationship with his long-term girlfriend. Lyrically, the album is laced with the pain of a broken relationship and, despite some upbeat melodies, is aurally more mellow and reflective than ‘Young Hunger’.
The vocal harmony of the a cappella, auto-tuned opener, ‘Understand’, instantly draws you in to Chad Valley’s story. The catchy and upbeat ‘True’ sees Manuel tell his lost love that “it’s not too late to get it right”. However, as the album progresses we see that this love is not going to be fixed. It is the middle of the album where Chad Valley seems to come into his own, with the back-to-back tracks of ‘Arms Away’, ‘Moon Over Water’ and ‘Not That Man’ showcasing Manuel’s musicality and lyricism well. The sultrier ‘Alisa’ closes the album on an optimistic but somewhat bittersweet note.
‘Entirely New Blue’ is held together by dreamy melodies, beautifully bittersweet lyrics and a clever use of drum beats. The use of guest backing vocals and an impressive higher register adds vocal layers that make for a pleasant, more rounded listening experience. Hopefully, this album will see Chad Valley grow to greater heights and develop even more as an artist because his musicality is abundantly clear throughout this album.