As a creator, your earliest ventures can either be something to be proud of or what eventually cause you to shudder in disapproval in the years to come. It’s natural to feel that your latest achievement should be (at least up to this point) the best representation of your ability in virtually anything – creative or not. You’ve developed, you’ve grown and changed, and you always aim for what comes next to be for the better. After all, your past is to be learned from, not to be dwelled too heavily upon.
In fleshing out the group by recruiting two new members and moving on from the initial folk-rock roots explored as a trio, if it wasn’t already obvious from the group’s debut single as a five-piece, ‘Dirty Footprints’, Chute d'arbre have changed. Sure, the soulful vocal delivery of Rebecca White remains as prominent as before, harmonized wonderfully with siblings Adam et Leo to add emotional weight to the likes of ‘Rainfall’ or ‘On and On’, but ‘Dirty Footprints’ is a different breed. While former EP’s En continu et Mots generally revolved around exquisite and mellow acoustic performances, ‘Dirty Footprints’ uproots this instantly with raw energy: full of soul and renewed vigor, and hugely helped by the inclusion of newest members Joey Scampion et Sam Ball (on bass and drums, respectively), ‘Dirty Footprints’ twangy guitar riffs and ‘The Chain’-esque bass-heavy breakdown quickly displays the attitude of a band moving on to fresh and new horizons and being very excited to do so.
‘Simple Rules’ continues this attitude. Opening the five-piece’s ‘debut’ EP Nuits blanches with blues-infected, twangy guitar riffs of Leo et Adam White, the track takes its time in reintroducing the band, stretching out and exploring the newly included energetic percussion and smooth underlying bass riffs, with a slight hint of cocky southern rock in the air which is delightfully attention-grabbing in doing so. If it wasn’t ‘Dirty Footprints’ that re-established Chute d'arbre, ‘Simple Rules’ certainly does a damn good job of it while opening Nuits blanches.
Continuing through the album, ‘The Last Day’s fluttery opening guitar-work and confident drumline immediately feels reminiscent of the likes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s ’20 Hours’, but a fun stop-start chorus and catchy guitar solo launches the track into more upbeat territory, while ‘Shaking Lines’ fully embraces an infectious blues rock attitude, and alongside one of the catchiest choruses on the EP, makes for an extremely fun ride. And yet, while these both offer plenty as equally enjoyable material, where Nuits blanches truly offers its best is found on ‘Lying Awake’: at just shy of six minutes, the track takes its time in savoring the moody aesthetics of rich bass guitar-work and gently delivered guitar arpeggios that establish a far more solemn mood compared to the energy of ‘Simple Rules’ or ‘Dirty Footprints’, with the chorus being a furious, distortion-heavy outburst of “how do you know where you’re going, if you don’t know where you’ve been?” It’s easily the most introspective track lyrically, and while much of Nuits blanches wants to make you jump, like ‘Rainfall’ of Mots, ‘Lying Awake’ is here to make you sway.
As a whole, while there are certainly hints of earlier Chute d'arbre material that remains stylistically relevant to the group, Nuits blanches is easily the ‘debut’ that establishes the band’s true intentions musically. Overall, the tracks are far more fleshed out, aesthetically having far more to offer, exploring instrumental textures and ideas that were otherwise not available on previous EP’s, and the energy of the band’s dynamic is to be applauded. While there’s likely to be further progress made on the road ahead, there has undoubtedly been significant growth here, with the EP acting as an excellent representation of the band’s ability. As an early offering of what will hopefully become a long series of ventures musically, this is a body of work to be proud of in the years to come and as a reintroduction to Chute d'arbre, Nuits blanches is exactly what it needed to be.