Colorway – The Black Sky Sequined

Primary URL: http://www.colorwaymusic.com/about/

The world’s introduction to Colorway with their first album marked a public rebirth for former Dunk Stuntmen singer and songwriter F. Alex Johnson. The band’s formation signaled the start of a new chapter in his life following the end of a long standing, active substance abuse problem and, if you wish, there’s a quality in the new album The Black Sky Sequined that can be heard as clarity of experience. Buried beneath the blues, souped-up country licks, and practically punk rock aesthetic lending some songs their energy is hard-won wisdom and a jaded, but profoundly human point of view.

It comes through so strongly in “Gen Exit”, the album’s first song, that it’s easy to wonder how Colorway can sustain the pace. Johnson curls words off his tongue with unique relish undoubtedly fueled, in part, by the song’s serio-comic subject. The album levels off briefly after this. Even if it is the album’s first single, “Come Back July” is easy to admire but curiously unmoving. There’s a notable distance that Johnson sometimes maintains from his material that nullifies his frequent mastery of detail. “Explain” lacks a lot of the specificity distinguishing other lyrics, but Johnson’s writing clearly communicates the song’s subject nonetheless. This is a ballsy number about anguish and survival that is one of the album’s best songs thanks to a convincing Johnson vocal. This song seems to cut much closer to the bone for him than earlier tracks, but he leaves his mark on the track further with particularly inspired guitar playing.

“The Cycle” might initially strike some listeners as an odd inclusion on the album and some might even hear it as filler, but it serves noticed that Colorway isn’t content to satisfy audience expectations. This is a band eager to follow their own path and even if it means including an anomalous recording with an abbreviated lyric and lengthy guitar workout, they’re happy to oblige. This isn’t to say that the song plays like some sort of coy or cheap trick on the listener. “Everybody Wants Me to Love You” avoids a similar fate despite its rough-and-ready pop sensibility and relentless tempo. In an earlier era, such a catchy track would have garnered at least a minor hit for the band. It might be relatively innocuous, but it’s undeniable fun.

“Telephone” brings listeners an entirely different sort of fun. The seven-minute plus opus features searing lead guitar courtesy of Johnson and drummer J.J. O’Connell deserves special mention for swinging percussion packing more power than the Guns of Navronne. Bringing a horn section in elevates the song to another level and concludes the album with a definitive statement about the band’s future.

To borrow an old cliché, they’re going somewhere. Wherever that somewhere is remains to be seen, but this is a band clearly in creative ascent. The Black Sky Sequined pulls out all the stops in an attempt to leave an indelible musical statement and largely succeeds.

Purchase Link: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/colorway3

8 out of 10 stars

Shannon Cowden