by Philip Moss
Over a rich canvas, Laura Colwell paints expositions that come from the questions some songwriters choose not to answer
Stepping out of our comfort zones can be extremely daunting – to the point where it makes us start to question if the decisions that we are making are the correct ones. Not because they feel wrong, per se, but because they feel so unfamiliar based upon the usual steps that are buried deep into our muscle memory.
Part of the beauty of Sun June’s 2018 debut, Years, was the clinically constructed way the record had been slotted together. Like a jigsaw of perfectly symmetrical pieces, where every pluck of guitar was the precise sized shape to fit into the millimetre of space left by the rhythmic drum patterns, it was a template that suited Laura Colwell’s almost whispered voice to a tee. There was a knowing calmness. A comforting familiarity that made the pairing feel right.
On Somewhere opener, Bad With Time, though, we are immediately confronted by a warmer Sun June – a turning up of the sun, as Colwell’s voice is wrapped by a Tom Petty sized gloop of honey; the ‘Texan highways’ she sings of feeling like the perfect place to embrace the FM radio soundtrack. One absolutely fitting for a panoramic drive through the desert.
The more overt use of real life experiences that make it onto the record feel a conscious volta too. Like so many of us, Colwell recalls significant moments through her connection to music. On Karen O, the vast expanse of the aforementioned open road is transposed for a basement bar in Brooklyn. The tone and feel of the song moves with it, but the new found space matches Colwell’s reflective mode – recalling a dream she had on the same night.
It’s also just one of a number of songs that sees Colwell sticking a pin in the U.S map – with New Orleans, Manhattan and Los Angeles all hosting expositions. But, regardless of definitive location, it’s Colwell’s mind’s eye that plays the true host to Somewhere’s ruminative narratives. Burying deep within herself, it’s not always the easiest of situations that she revisits, but the willingness to expose herself – digging deep on Real Thing, for example, into the questions that keep us awake at night – that brings a richness to her storytelling that matches the depth of the band’s newfound sound.
We take the telling of the time, or the clicking of our fingers for granted. But put yourself back in the tiny shoes that you wore when these things hadn’t been learnt. Sometimes – even as an adult – it’s important to remove ourselves from the surroundings and situations that give us a warm, natural feeling, and do something that on paper is just plain wrong; that maybe even goes against everything you stand for.
In Sun June’s case, the restraints that made Years feel so musically perfect, and the anonymity in the storytelling’s voice have been let loose. So it’s not necessarily as case of judging here whether the results produced on Somewhere are better, or just different. But what is important is that the outcomes see Cowell and Co. move forward not only as people, but also as artists.
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