Colin Meloy: Sings Live! (Rough Trade)

 |   |  1 min read

Colin Meloy: Devil's Elbow
Colin Meloy: Sings Live! (Rough Trade)

Something about a couple of these solo songs sounded oddly familiar and I suspect I may have seen this Portland-based singer-songwriter and mainman in the Decemberists at a songwriter night in the famous White Eagle Hotel in his hometome.

Or maybe it's just that these memorable, lyrically dense and chorus-fuelled songs were recorded live on a solo tour in 2006 and so have an immediacy and presence.

Meloy is a story-teller in song although the narrative is oblique and sometimes opaque, yet -- just as with REM and the Smiths for example -- you feel you are being told something, although it is often hard to get a handle on exactly what.

Beyond his own songs of dislocation and outsiders he weaves in snippets of REM (Seven Chinese Brothers), Anglo-folk singer Shirley Collins' version of Barbara Allen (whose work he did an EP of apparently and pays tribute to here), the Smiths, Fleetwood Mac and even a snippet of Pink Floyd.

These references illustrate the depth of the well he draws from.

But what will win you is the power of his voice, the strength of his tunes, and the personality which comes through in the songs, the aural references and the witty asides to the audiences.

He also plays the worst song he ever wrote ("bad to the core") and it is pretty awful. The Decemberists have won widespread critical acclaim on the strength of Meloy's songs and here a dozen or so are stripped bare for your enjoyment and allow you to further appreciate their emotional power.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Public Image Ltd: What the World Needs Now . . . (PiL Official/Southbound)

Public Image Ltd: What the World Needs Now . . . (PiL Official/Southbound)

While John Lydon will always have points in for the Sex Pistols, the early PiL albums and even the 2012 This is PiL, he certainly does his best to lose them with as much effort. Like this one... > Read more

Ben Ottewell:Shapes and Shadows (Shock)

Ben Ottewell:Shapes and Shadows (Shock)

The name might not be familiar but from the first bar the voice certainly is. It belongs to that rusty balladeer in Gomez who here steps out with a classy, soulful solo debut of originals... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE LAST WORD by HANIF KUREISHI

THE LAST WORD by HANIF KUREISHI

Consider the plight of a hard-pressed writer commissioned to do the biography of an old, famous living author. Then think how much more difficult it would be if the manipulative author has... > Read more

Joan Osborne: Taking qawwali to the kids

Joan Osborne: Taking qawwali to the kids

Burlington in Vermont was just starting to take on the complexion of winter when I dropped out of the sky into its verdant beauty. Little wafts of snow were blown around the trunks of the trees and... > Read more