In 2019, while recording his debut album Unfall, Chase Tremaine decided that he would release music under his own name, forsaking his original plan to use a one-man-band stage name in the style of like-minded artists such as The Rocket Summer, From Indian Lakes, and St. Vincent. On his third studio album, Accidental Days, the reasons for this decision are clearer than ever before. Throughout this ten song set, Tremaine shows himself to be a fully-realized singer-songwriter to a heightened degree, with a gleeful willingness to play with the ingredients of emo, alternative, folk-pop, and indie rock as desired. Yet at the same time, the multi-instrumentalist has never sounded more like a real band, with the push-and-pull and creative intricacies that you would expect from friends who have spent years playing in a garage together. This perfect balance vividly brings these songs to life on Tremaine’s best album yet: a concise collection about the complex intersections between faith, friendship, work, heartbreak, and aging.
The story behind Accidental Days dates back to 2012, when the Nashville-based artist spent a summer during college as a volunteer at the Grand Canyon Village. Over the course of those three months, Tremaine penned a dozen folk-rock songs in what proved to be the most prolific songwriting season of his life (up to that point). As of 2023, it might take merely a few days to write twelve new songs, but at the time, the experience was life-changing. The summer of 2012 proved to be personally formative as well, displayed through relationally charged lyrics that were heavily informed by the people and challenges he encountered while living at the national park.
“Looking back, most of those songs weren’t very good, but that summer was the first time when songwriting seemed like something I might actually be good at,” Tremaine says, reflecting fondly upon his time at the Grand Canyon. “It’s like something in me was unlocked, as if I received songwriting as a gift. I’ve been working hard to steward and harness it ever since.” Tremaine’s hopes to record his album of “Grand Canyon songs” were sidelined as he finished his college education, but his dream to create a folk-rock-inspired album about day-to-day life, work, and relationships never dissipated. As the years went on, he compiled a list of songs that functioned as spiritual successors to the ones he’d written that summer, eventually resulting in Accidental Days (which still contains two and a half of those original Grand Canyon songs).
Mixing exploration with observation, brash assertions with yearning questions, and musical restraint with creative opulence, the result is a thrilling, colorful alternative/emo-pop record featuring a philosophically cohesive outlook on life and love. On the epic penultimate track “The Checklist,” Tremaine sings about the value of fighting for your friendships, even if your differences and disagreements make it easier to fight with them than to fight for them. On the single “Tired Side of Content,” he argues that life is more fulfilling when we spend our energy serving and loving others, rather than prioritizing our own comforts.
Throughout Accidental Days, Tremaine is concerned with the afterlife as much as ideas of how heaven and eternity impact our lives here and now, taking listeners on a journey that balances massive, cerebral questions with personable, relatable storytelling. The album starts with “One Day,” a song about living in the present instead of finding anxiety in our worries about the future, and it ends with “New Creation Gray,” which shows Tremaine coping with growing older through a series of spiritual ponderings and questions, with piercing observations such as: “I’m already past my prime / I never learned to turn back time / Is decay the sentence or the crime?” That closing track is assisted by trumpeter Brendan Dorman, who appeared on both of Tremaine’s prior albums. Elsewhere, the album receives beautiful musical touches from bluegrass musician Theo MacMillan and up-and-comer Nick Schrader, who provide background vocals and piano solos on “Settled in the Unsettled” and “Gloriously Mundane,” (respectively).
The set was preceded by the 2022 EP My Heart Settled in the Middle, featuring three of the album’s ten songs, which was met with warm acceptance from fans and acclaim from critics. Chorus.fm’s Adam Grundy praised the EP, calling it “great-sounding alternative rock” with “lush guitar riffs and smooth vocals,” while many fans dubbed the single “Middle of My Words” to be the greatest song yet from Tremaine’s budding yet prolific career.
Accidental Days hits streaming services everywhere on March 10, 2023 and will be available on Bandcamp to purchase on CD (or digitally for free/pay-what-you-want). The album was produced and mixed by Brendan St. Gelais (Carver Commodore, Bre Kennedy), mastered by Sean Power at the Hilson Studio, and released independently in partnership with Post Emo Records