Monday, December 17, 2012

REVIEW: The Colourful Band - The Colourful Band

Edinburgh-based singer songwriter Ian McKelvie is a man with a talent for writing songs that tell stories and express emotions simply and concisely, and then wrapping them in a folk rock wrapper that makes it warm, familiar and exciting.  The genius isn't it trying to contrive the most interesting story or express the greatest love/rage/sorrow; it is in expressing the story you have in a way that people want to hear it.  Some guys and gals have the knack -- like Billy Bragg, Sixto Rodriguez,  and Paul Westerberg.  Add Ian to that list.  Of course, it doesn't hurt that he is graced with a velvet voice.

Ian previously issued a couple of critically well received EPs in 2009 and 2010, but this is his first LP with his collaborators known as The Colourful Band.  The album is a collection of the best songs he has written over the past few years, including songs from the EPs and a tune that featured on the soundtrack of a BBC series, recorded at Chem19 and Gargleblast studios.  Here is one of my favorite songs on the album, "New Town Girls".  I think most of us can relate to it without even having been to Edinburgh.  Depending on where you live, you can just substitute the appropriate local geographic reference -- upper east side girls, Rodeo Drive girls, South Beach girls, Back Bay girls -- I expect you have the picture in mind.  And it ably displays Ian's knack with a song.

The eleven tracks on the album include energetic songs, such as three of the first four tracks, "Always the Summer" (name checking Joe Strummer in a clever way), the rousing "Are You Waiting?" and "Easter Road" (which begins "She's been thinking about having a baby and he's been thinking about joining the navy and I, I just wanna be somewhere else"), and slow, reflective tunes such as "Getting Famous Is Easy", "Hollow Lonely Heart" (showing his crooner chops and admitting his passion for Scarlet Johansson), "I Want to Go Home" and "In the Meantime" (which may remind the listener of James Taylor or Tom Rush).

You can stream Easter Road at the Soundcloud link below, but alas I have no clip for the majestic "Into the Bright Sun From Shadow", but you can stream a segment here.  And you should stream it.  In my view, it is one of those songs that prompts a listener to bump an album up an entire grade.

The Colourful Band (at various times) are Dave Curry (drums), Jon Tyler (guitar), Fraser Stewart (drums), Ian McKelvie (vocals, guitar), Steve Tonge (bass), and Dave Steel (drums).  The Colourful Band is out now on Vet Records.  I expect non-UK fans can source it at digital outlets.  And Amazon in the US offers the MP3s for $7.99.

Twitter ( @McKelvie_Ian )
Amazon link for album

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