Sometimes referred to as the Philippines' “acoustic songbird,” Chlara is a 29-year-old british-born Filipina singer/songwriter whose popularity has steadily grown over the past several years. Love Ya, her latest studio album, is the first to feature nearly all-original material (save for a bold reimagining of David Bowie’s 1977 classic “Heroes”) since her 2014 debut Unstoppable.
Hong Kong-based audiophile label evosound – to whom Chlara is signed – seems to be on the path towards becoming a major player in immersive audio, having been behind a number of recently-praised immersive releases including Hair Metal icons’ Mr. Big’s 1989 self-titled debut album and The Bob James Trio’s sensational live-in-the-studio title Feel Like Making LIVE! (2022).
Love Ya is available in a wide variety of formats, including LP, MQA-CD, and Hybrid Multichannel SACD. The album has been mixed in both traditional 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Atmos by Andrés Mayo and Martín Muscatello.
We at IAA are thrilled to offer the album as an exclusive immersive digital download through our online shop, with high-resolution 5.1 FLAC files as well as Dolby TrueHD/Atmos MKVs.
Immersive streaming is certainly a great way to audition the Atmos mix prior to purchase, but the Dolby TrueHD/Atmos MKV files from IAA’s shop provide an infinitely more rewarding experience for audiophiles. With lossless Dolby TrueHD, the detail and clarity heard in the studio is much better preserved.
Though a number of Chlara’s previous releases – including 2020’s AcousticNow and 2017’s In A Different Light – have been made available in the high-resolution Super Audio CD format, Love Ya is her first to feature an immersive mix.
I’m thrilled to report that Mayo and Muscatello have done an excellent job translating the album into a fully-immersive experience, with distinct instrumentation appearing both behind and above the listener.
The album opens with “I Is The Loneliest Letter,” foregrounding Chlara’s voice in the center speaker and spreading the keyboards out into the rear surround speakers. The center channel remains an active part of the presentation for the duration of both the 5.1 & Atmos, spotlighting lead vocals as well as other key elements like acoustic and bass guitar. The height channels are engaged as well, featuring both ‘you-are-there’ ambience and discrete elements such as the telephone-processed vocal refrains during the chorus.
Moving into the second track “You Really Shouldn’t Have,” vocal reflections again hit off all corners of the listening space while the core instrumentation (acoustic guitar, percussion, lead vocal) remain upfront.
Sound quality is out-of-this-world good. Each instrument is equalized to perfection: The high-end is crisp without any stridency, while the lows are powerful but not muddy - and the dynamic range has not been compressed in any way. There are some magical moments where it really sounds like Chlara is performing live in your listening room.
“Heroes” is undoubtedly an interesting take on the fresh song, removing the Robert Fripp/Brian Eno cacophony of the original in favor of a stripped-down acoustic approach. Synthesizers fill up the side surround speakers while vocal delays bounce around the height speakers.
Electric guitar blares from the center speaker to kick off “Sunburn,” with synthesizers popping up from above and backing vocals from the sides. “Ikaw Na Yata” again makes effective use of the height speakers for rhythm guitar and synth percussion.
Acoustic guitar and flute trade left and right for the intro to “Lady Bird,” while Chlara’s voice again bursts through the center channel with striking clarity and reflections hit off all angles of the listening space. Another highlight is undoubtedly the haunting closer “747,” featuring rain-drop like percussion in the rear height speakers and upright bass that really sounds like it's in the room with you.
While there is little in the way of movement or other pyrotechnics, the Atmos & 5.1 mixes are quite effective given the sparse nature of the material. If you enjoy this music, you won’t regret the purchase!
Purchase Love Ya in the IAA Shop!