Secret Meeting score: 75
by Joseph Purcell
Austin based songwriter, Christelle Bofale, has had quite the journey, and on her debut EP, Swim Team, she has channelled her experiences into a debut release packed with punch, bustling guitars and languid lashes of sound.
The first American born member of her family, Bofale’s formative years were heavily influenced by her Congolese roots, immersed in traditional song, dance, prayer and the talents of a soukous playing grandfather. Such factors have contributed delightfully to the genre fusing foundations of Swim Team, which is a swirl of soul, jazz and alternative rock.
Focal point, Origami Dreams, is the most conventional track on the album, and the anchor point with which the other four tracks rotate. Bursting with changes in pace and direction, it rumbles along with a beautifully pitched guitar and instant introduction to Bofale’s sultry delivery, as she snarls – ‘I guess we are through’.
Bofale’s tracks are more akin to slow traversing narratives, all consuming and melodic one moment, before lurching into a hail of guitar or gently floating into a shroud of floating majesty, best typified on the near eight-minute U Ouchea. Bofale’s dreamy delivery perfectly conveys the poignant angst of her chosen reflection, casting exquisite imagery, amongst lyrical turmoil – ‘The sun is out but it’s raining inside of me’.
Swim Team acts as a powerful introduction to an artist unbowed by what she has to say. Bofale exquisitely fuses the relaxed ambience of her music with the influences of her past. She has found her voice and does not shy away from the often-harsh realities of existence. Unbowed by topics such as relationships and black mental health, Bofale belies her relative inexperience, in creating a platform for her reality and talent to flourish. This EP marks what looks like will be the start of a very exciting career ahead.