Colorama : Some Things Just Take Time01.09.17 : Wonderfulsound
If you have ever stood in a high end gift shop and picked up a carved artefact made so well, with a deep understanding of the grain of the wood, that you feel a jolt of human connection with the person that crafted it; then you already know what all eleven songs on this new Colorama album feel like to listen to.
Ten years in the making, the set is a mix of folk, retro-pop, soul and blues, with a strong sixties feel in the sometimes baroque detailing. Also reminiscent of that decade there is an ever present emotional immediacy and clarity in the songwriting (with nothing overwrought) that you might normally expect to find when listening to Paul Simon's early work. Colorama's mainstay, Carwyn Ellis, has namechecked a host of influences that have imbued each of the songs with a definite sense of heritage, including US songwriters such as John D Loudermilk and Glen Campbell, the finely-crafted songs of Townes Van Zandt, the fearless Celtic soul of Van Morrison, and the 1930s-1940s American pop of The Ink Spots, The Mills Brothers, and Bing Crosby in his list.
The album opens strongly. The first two songs prompt a bright, upbeat mood. Halcyon Days is a breezy nostalgic road trip - written about a visit to the US in 2000. The title track, Some Things Just Take Time, has a skiffling pace to frame its plea for patient optimism. So So Long comes next - a complete evocation of lush early sixties pop, suitably adorned with a sprightly mellotron solo.
What then follows is balanced, consistent and coherent; there is varied instrumentation, and necessary shifts in tempo and tone for each song, but it is all bound together by the unifying, transcendent musicianship.
This is emphasised as two of the most minimally arranged tracks are also amongst the most poignant. The guitar, violin and cello setting of It's Not You captures the pathos of a child visiting an adult who is losing their way in life. I Owe It All To You is a simple guitar / vocal beatific love song.
The centre piece of all this musical delight is In Your Memory (The Miner's Letter) - the lyric a heart-rending expression of love in the form of a letter written by a miner in anticipation of death, the sentiment beautifully underpinned by a low-key choir.
All the album is self-penned until two impressive covers mark its end. Long Haired Doney is a blues from R. L. Burnside, here given an effective Mississippi swamp-edge acoustic reading. The version of Sonny & Cher's Baby Don't Go presented is simply superb - rebuilding the original so brilliantly that it is as if a serviceable family saloon car has been taken apart and a Porsche magically assembled from the parts.
Carwyn Ellis has worked with excellent musicians for this record. Everything was recorded live, in the analogue Toe Rag Studios with Liam Watson (who won a Grammy for The White Stripes' Elephant), and with long time cohort Edwyn Collins, at his West Heath Yard Studios. Add these two elements to the honed skill of the songwriting and the sympathetic arrangements - the result is that Some Things Just Take Time is a warm, life-affirming, understated masterpiece.
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