Another female song interpreter had a huge record with a Neil Young song as its title. No, this won’t be the landmark album like Emmylou’s Wrecking Ball,but those fortunate enough to hear Colleen Rennsion’s See The Sky About To Rain will be similarly stunned. No, Colleen’s voice will not remind you of Emmylou’s, but it will undoubtedly grab you. It’s been a long time since I’ve been completely overwhelmed with a voice that’s so sultry, so expressive, and so versatile. Add the splendid multi-instrument picking and production of Steve Dawson, and it makes for an exceptional record. Colleen, a Canadian childhood actress since the age of 5, comes across as an incredibly mature vocalist, belying her boozing, hard-charging persona with her Vancouver-based blues rock band, No Sinner (Rennison spelled backwards).
Dawson found magic in her voice and gathered musicians from both Vancouver and Nashville, including The McCrary Sisters, to back the effort. Colleen and Dawson dug into the “Great Canadian Songbook” featuring songs from The Band , Leonard Cohen, Sarah Harmer, Joni Mitchell, and Young (the title track). They also recognized artists like Townes Van Zandt, Booker T., Bobbie Gentry, and Tom Russell for the album’s glowing centerpiece, “Blue Wing”. Her phrasing here is especially remarkable, as she often changes dynamics and even offers some silence in key parts of the story to frame the song. Colleen herself says, “I am awe of each of these songs and have done my best to honour them and find the truest way to sing them”. While her riveting stage presence and raucous approach with own band will inevitably draw raves, this album is a true showcase and strong platform for an amazing young vocalist–she’s only 26 years old–to launch a stellar career.
– Jim Hynes