Artist: Colonial Blue
Album: Dear Misery
Release Date: 06/17/2016
Any album that’s entitled Dear Misery does not bode well for any kind of uplifting experience, but Colonial Blue’s debut album is less about angst and more about expression. Given singer Stephanie Rice’s struggles over her sexuality (coming out to her family at age 18) and being a Baptist preacher’s daughter, the alienation she describes becomes all the more profound. Consequently, the group’s debut album becomes a telling lesson in overcoming obstacles, both personally and professionally, and its weave of skittish melodies and impassioned performances offers its full share of fascination. Tracks like “Break Your Bones,” “Home” and “My Treason ” find Rice emoting while all sorts of atmospherics stew in the background. “How am I supposed to tell if you’re telling me a lie,” she pleads in “Home.” “Well it does not come easily.”
Rice’s search for some kind of salvation remains evident throughout, filling the album with its confessional intent. Fortunately, the band — Rice, guitarist/bassist Jonathan Ward and drummer Corey Chierignino — manage to massage the songs in such a way as to avoid any sense of overindulgence. These songs boast a stirring dynamic that keeps the interest intact from one verse to another, and on tracks like “Cold Water,” “Undone” and the title track, Ward’s dramatic vocals are given full throttle over sympathetic and supple backing from Chierignino and Ward. The contrast is striking.
Colonial Blue has made a defining first impression here, and even when the misery isn’t always muted, the emotional investment is well worth any indulgence.
– Lee Zimmerman