Matthew Houck made no mistakes in choosing his album title, C’est la Vie. Returning for his 7th album as Phosphorescent, one struggle looms omnipresent over all others: acceptance. However charmingly and gently he puts it, after all, it is a struggle. Houck has always known how to spin a graceful tune, the magic here is the faded sadness behind his positivity.

Telling are some of his earliest words, on album opener (excluding a deceptively dramatic intro track) 'C'est la Vie No. 2': “I don't write all night burning holes up to heaven no more." Whatever pain and passion once kept our dignified hero burning the midnight oil, well, those feelings have long past. C'est la Vie is a man reckoning with what to do with a hard-earned peace.

Isaac Brock once, perhaps, put it best: "As life gets longer awful feels softer." Are we happier, stronger? Or are we just plain ol' losing our will to fight? As sublimely pleasant as it may be on the surface, C'est la Vie constantly wrestles (alright, perhaps more 'engages in a polite dialogue') with these tough questions. Such is life, the album's title may declare, but Houck knows it's damn hard.

The set of songs he's come up with in response make for a rare achievement: for at least 46 minutes, they make it all seem alright. The man's musings may well call back to mind lovers and friends lost, casually offering up broken words ("These rocks, they are heavy, but I guess I wouldn't have it any other way," is sure to stick in your mind), but rather than being a tearjerker, C'est la Vie instead serves as something of a safeguard, a protective companion, a generous friend down paths of memory we may never have intended to traverse again, and that we'd shudder to travel alone.

Phosphorescent's music is as giving and truly kind as ever. Yet, to my ears, there has never been a deeper reservoir of feeling behind Houck's effortless knack for a spirit-lifting folk groove. It hardly seems a mistake that his face graces the artwork here, staring down the listener with a wise, if sad, visage. He genuinely appears to be feeling it all. Listening, so do we. That's no small feat. In fact, it's nothing short of a minor masterpiece of kindness and understanding. Couldn't we all use some of that? C'est la vie, after all.