Unsigned / Self-released
Words: Craig Hartranft
Colorway is the creation of the quite accomplished Boston guitarist and songwriter Alex Johnson, along with his rhythm section Dave Hayes on bass and J. J. O'Connell on drums. Put power trio out of your mind for the moment. Colorway is definitely a platform for Johnson's voice in songwriting and guitar.
It's been a few weeks since I spun this album, but my notes suggest that I liked it. Second time, I wondered if I was premature in my judgment. But no. Johnson's skill at song writing, basic melodic rock composition is nimble and engaging. Yet, I think the best aspect about this album is his guitar playing.
Johnson has a consistent sound across the album. The tone of his guitar has a balance of raw and crispness, a sharpness as it were, but still smooth. At times he reminds me of a mash up of Clapton, Mark Knopfler, and that Aussie dude, Keith Urban. Wrap your head around that combination. I liked it best when the licks and groove of his leads were extended, in the true sense of a guitar solo, as within The Cycle or Telephone. The latter song demonstrates Johnson's gift for arranging, countering his guitar with some horns. Additionally, Johnson is a solid vocalist with a clean melodic style. He works his voice with the rest of the band for some strong harmonies. As for the rhythm section I was looking for some descriptive words. Unpretentious, but solid and skillful, a complete compliment to Johnson's guitar and compositions.
My conclusion, in the end, is that Johnson's guitar work overshadows most everything here, from lyrical voice to basic song composition. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily so, but it did have me listening more for his guitar chops than anything else. So call Colorway and The Black Sky Sequined a guitar-centered album. It's rather self-evident. Recommended.
Colorway and The Black Sky Sequined is a platform for guitarist and composer Alex Johnson's voice in songwriting and guitar, mostly for the latter in my opinion.
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