Tuesday, 8 September 2015

EP Review - Only When Flooded Could I Let Go

by Jack Colwell (out now)

At the start of last year a press release came through to our inbox about a young Sydney based musician who had just released a song called 'Far From View' and an accompanying clip. Comparisons to the likes of Nick Cave and Patrick Wolf were mentioned. Jack Colwell was the name. He had established himself in Sydney's music scene and released an album, but remained relatively unknown up here in Brisbane. I opened up the YouTube link to 'Far From View' and found myself lost in the world of an incredibly fascinating artist and I've been living in that world ever since, with no intention of leaving anytime soon. This will only be helped by the release of Colwell's Only When Flooded Could I Let Go EP, a collection that showcases a highly proficient composer, storyteller and outstanding vocalist. Themes of heartbreak, putting on your bravest face and finding inner strength abound across five tracks that prove the finest art truly is timeless. So, let's take a closer track-by-track looksie, shall we? 

All good things must come to an end
All good things only end with you my friend
But you don't, you don't see me.
- 'Coat'

Rude word warning. The opening track on Only When Flooded Could I Let Go isn't actually about a coat. Sorry to disappoint the winter wear lovers. It stands for cunt of a thing and that's the first and last time I'll ever drop the c-bomb on here. Maybe. As the story within 'Coat' plays out, with goregous/manic string arrangements, you can understand his need to let off some steam against a former flame. It's far from your standard 'scorned lover' fare though. Sure, there's the line disclosing poor endowment of a certain c.o.a.t, but the all too relatable heartbreak isn't in the angry revelations. It's in the words, "you don't see me." Something many of us have come to terms with after a relationship has broken down. Colwell lingers on the line as the song closes out, driving home the hurt caused by some cunt. Oh no... I said it again. Last time, promise. Right from the beginning, Colwell places himself in the same wheelhouse as many of the artists he draws inspiration from. Think Tori Amos or Kate Bush, but with the deep, haunting tones of Nick Cave.      

I feel two hands in the dark
But I feel nothing, oh I feel nothing...
- 'Far From View'

More than a year after its release, 'Far From View' is still a song I can play on repeat for hours on end. Colwell described the song last year in an interview as, "it's about the idea of being hidden when you're ashamed. There is this feeling of emptiness that occurs after rejection, where the floor has fallen out from under you and you're scrambling to find your feet. And finally, when you think you've moved on, and perhaps are ready to be with someone else, there's still this ghost of their memory on you, waiting to be shaken." From the extended instrumental opening to Colwell's final emotional wails, 'Far From View' takes you on one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. Much like 'Coat', the musical arrangement is just too good, building a whole world around the listener through cinematic strings, guitar and choral backing. It's a standout performance from our leading man. The track slowly builds upon itself along with Colwell's vocal work, soaring higher and higher to a stunning conclusion. As perfect as ever, 'Far From View' is a song I can't recommend enough to anyone and everyone. When I look back in 125 years, thinking about the best songs I've heard throughout my 'body donated to science' extended life, 'Far From View' will be one of the first to come to mind. It's really that good.

I know the riddles of the heart
I know that sometimes it gets dark.
- 'Don't Cry Those Tears

Jack Colwell's most recent single completely won us over when it came out last month. It was like stepping back to the 60s, all doo-wop-y and wall of sound-ish. Completely charming in every way and a much needed positive step after the heartbreak and longing of the previous tracks. Taking on the role of shoulder to cry on, Colwell becomes that wise friend who's been there before... offering some words of wisdom to get you through a pretty shitty time. There's something magical about the way he tells you he knows the secrets of the heart and the mind. There's something affirming about the way he says he'll cry too if you're crying those tears. Another cinematic wonder that picks up the tempo, shows off Colwell's pop capabilities and leaves you wanting so much more. Easily one of the best songs of 2015.

And remember that you're not the only one to feel this way before
Sometimes I see my face a fool, wipe it off the floor.
- 'On With The Show'

This is one of those tracks where you're left wishing life was a musical, so songs like this would be playing around you ALL THE TIME. Ba-ba-da-da-daaaaa, dance, cry, laugh, get on with your life. Repeat over and over. 'On With The Show' is another reminder that Colwell is very good at this whole songwriting thing. Lines like the ones above, "you're not the only one to feel this way before," are thoughts that go through everyone's brain when coming out of a relationship. Sometimes all you need to hear is that someone else thinks the way you do. And sometimes you just need a jazzy little number to dance it out too. 'On With The Show' is just the song you need. P.s. get around to writing a musical already, Jack.   

You went to war
Nothing stays the same. 
- 'Quintilis'

Wrapping everything up in a neat, little package? Not quite. Bringing an emotional chapter in our protagonist's life to a close? Absolutely. 'Quintilis' combines classical with bluesy rock in what becomes an equal parts celebration/drowning of sorrows number. It's incredibly complex. One moment there's accepting the past and the next an erratic breakdown. Something like that last, big blowout before you're finally ready to move on. You've just walked into that dimly lit bar at four in the morning and the lounge singer is literally performing his heart out to a room that's made up of you and some dude passed out on the bar. That's 'Quintilis'. Only When Flooded Could I Let Go closes on a track that takes you to the highest of highs and lowest of lows. You wouldn't have it any other way.

Jack Colwell is gifted and a truly talented artist. With Only When Flooded Could I Let Go, he firmly establishes himself as one of Australian music's treasures. Over countless listens there's so much more to discover on each track. Much like 'Far From View', I can't recommend this EP more highly. This is everything I love about music. It takes you on a journey, but leaves room for interpretation unique to the listener. It tells the narrator's story, but you can hear your own story in there too. When we got the email many moons ago introducing us to the music of Jack Colwell, the best decision made was listening to his music. Make the same choice and give it a go. There's no way you'll be disappointed.

Matt Bond gives the Only When Flooded Could I Let You Go EP five heart emoji out of five...    

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