Ashley Parent, Arts Editor
Fall serves as a time to come down from the summer high and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us, and acoustic rock makes a great backdrop to many activities of the season. An album worth spinning this fall, if you still need to cope with any unrequited summer love, is singer/songwriter Chase Huglin’s You Deserve An Island, out September 30 for InVogue Records.
Huglin is a twenty-something just breaking into the acoustic-indie scene. Hailing from the Midwest suburban node of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Huglin is taking a big step out of his hometown with You Deserve An Island and a lengthy November tour that spans much of the states as support for Canadian emo/acoustic act SayWeCanFly.
The album opens with “Wind Chimes,” an ambient track that places the listener beside Huglin, who performs bonfire-style, singing along and strumming an acoustic guitar. This song is followed by one of the album’s singles, “Pills,” a track that sets the theme for You Deserve An Island about being honest with loved ones about your love for them.
“Niagara,” the fourth track on the album, is the first tune with a more electric feel and percussive sounds to support Huglin’s vocals. This song was the most interesting vocally as he employs a harsher, more shouty technique comparable to Brian Swindle’s (Have Mercy) approach. Following “Niagara” is “Hell,” a song where Huglin is seeking advice from his mom while on tour. This song is the most relatable on the album for any college-age listener who spends a lot of time away from his or her parents.
The title track, “You Deserve An Island,” is the most distinct of the ten songs on the album. It’s incredibly catchy and well-written, covering how the person we love deserves the world, yet you cannot always deliver the gifts that they deserve. It would be interesting to hear the song played with a ukulele as a nod to the seaside imagery the song evokes.
You Deserve An Island finishes on a very mellow note, with “Soap Direction,” a quiet and heartfelt confessional leading into “Folded Hands,” the final track. This song is the most full-bodied of the whole work, employing a complete band at its climax. It’s exciting and even refreshing to hear Huglin alongside a band, which is a direction that he should certainly explore going forward. “Folded Hands” is an epic finale for You Deserve An Island; the contrast between the instrumental interlude and Huglin on his own evokes a great amount of emotion from the listener. “Folded Hands” succeeds at inducing tears from the listener and closing the album well.
Much of the album deals with love, loss, and growing up — quintessential topics for one just getting his start in acoustic-indie music. Huglin plays it rather safe with You Deserve An Island, and while it does not appear that he stretches far beyond his comfort zone musically, his lyrical matter deals with sensitive moments from his own life. Huglin’s mother passed during the writing of the album. Keeping that in mind, one might become more connected to his work.
You Deserve An Island is a raw acoustic album that is sufficient as a debut release for Chase Huglin. Listeners and critics alike can only hope that Huglin continues to grow as an artist from this work. In a live setting, Huglin would fit in alongside other acoustic acts such as This Wild Life and Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties, or as an opener to any plugged-in pop-punk band. For a twenty-something just getting started, Huglin made an honorable effort with You Deserve An Island that deserves attention from young adults likely to find themselves in similar situations as he.