Since the release of his breakthrough album, Muchacho, in 2013, the music world anxiously waited to hear what Matthew Houck, the man behind Phosphorescent, would reveal next. He teased something was near, but nothing was shared. Finally this autumn, C’est La Vie was unwrapped.

C’est La Vie is a cohesive and effortless album. It is Houck’s solar system, where he and his family are at the center and each of the nine songs orbit around them. Following the short, cinematic instrumental of “Black Moon/Silver Waves”, the stunning and slowly euphoric “C’est La Vie 2” emerges. This is Houck’s redemption. The surprisingly jubilant “New Birth in New England”, meanwhile, is his and his wife’s celebration of the arrival of their second child. This feeling of awe and wonderment are beautifully highlighted on “My Beautiful Boy”.

The album is also filled with moments of extreme vulnerability, such as on the soft country-rock ballad, “There From Here”, and the graceful country-folk number, “These Rocks”. On the groovy yet gentle rocker, “Around the Horn”, Houck finds hope once again. He has found the meaning to his life.

Houck goes outside his own atmosphere on the thought-provoking “Christmas Down Under”. His soft and endearing voice recounts multiple stories based around the past and present, including one about the Holy Son. The story traverses paths most would avoid, but then again Houck is no ordinary artist. He’s long blazed a path away from the well-worn trails, choosing instead to find new ways to make something truly extraordinary. To create something beyond the usual c’est la vie.

C’est La Vie is out now via Dead Oceans. It is available at the label’s store or on Bandcamp plus streamed at the usual sites.

To review the first 25 of our Favorite Albums of 2018, click here. The final 25 of our Favorite Albums, meanwhile, is available here.

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