That is the closest words can get to describing Colin Vearncombe’s latest appearance at Liverpool’s Zanzibar Club, in which the singer-songwriter showcased his recently-released album, Blind Faith on the latest leg of his current UK tour.
First up on stage was fellow member of the Red Grape Management stable, Jake Morley. Now here is a boy who is going places. Jake left the stage with pleas ringing in his ears. The audience wanted more. You heard it here first.
Colin, together with partner-in-crime Calum MacColl, then took to the floor with typical understated bonhomie. Perched on their stools, they presented a large slice of the new album along with a smattering of old favourites. At one point Colin even introduced his mum. It was that kind of night.
When the duo decided to pen a James Bond song for the new album, the result was The Love Show. Now if there is such a thing as an archetypal Bond theme, then this must surely be it. Fall into the arms of one who loves you, is the refrain in a song that is as powerful as it is delicate. Here is a song with seduction Muscovite-style and Blackjack tables written into its DNA.
Underlining the versatility of musical influences underpinning the new album, the intriguingly entitled Womanly Panther, whisks you away to the sultry streets of Buenos Aires with its brooding, stabbing rhythms: I was born for joy, cos I was born a boy – I’ll take it any way I can. And so say all of us (boys).
On Don’t Call me Honey, the theme of sexual relations is once more under the microscope, this time to a chugging bluegrass rhythm and Calum’s twinkling blues licks. If the Coen brothers ever get wind of this one, you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be beating a path down to West Cork.
A highlight of both gig and album must be the rendition of the forthcoming single Ashes of Angels. Think Kerouac; think Fonda on a Harley-D floating down the freeway and you’ll be getting warm. It’s a west-coast anthem. It’s the type of song that could and really should, in an ideal world, storm any chart. We don’t, however, live in an ideal world. But if we did...
Blind Faith feels like the work of an artist at the peak of their powers, a magnus opus if you like. It’s an album, dare I say, that manages to be both meaningful and catchy - no mean feat. Picking a single from this crop of goodies must surely have kept the judges up until the wee, small hours.
Songs like Who Are You and Sleep Together examine the vagaries of intimacy in gloriously melodic technicolour, predicated on hooks so hypnotic, that distraction might well set in. Gardens may go untended, bills unpaid. You have been warned.
Beautiful meanwhile is a ballad of aching intensity. Accompanied by the gentlest of guitars, Beautiful overwhelms with a simplicity that wends its way slowly into the soul. Every note, every syllable has been hewn from the heart.
Ending the album is a cosmic sermon entitled Parade – a dreamy meditation tinged with transcendentalism. Go home, lie down, breathe in, breathe out, extols the lyric, lulling the senses with a calm, reassuring wisdom. This is the musical realisation of a warm, summer breeze caressing the skin and as such a fittingly soothing closure to the album.
As collections go, they don’t get any more intimate than Blind Faith. It’s a soul laid bare, a confessional, an intensely personal journey yet one that always resonates. It’s also very honest, sometimes brutally so.
Listening to Blind Faith makes one realise that British music still has its craftsmen. After all, fine music – like fine malt – is, if nothing else, a process of maturation. It’s just a matter of devotion.
If Colin Vearncombe was hoping to expunge his soul with this collection, he may very well have gone some way to achieving that goal. Judge for yourself.
With a Little Help from his Friends: Interview with Colin Vearncombe