So, it’s not often that I blog the press we get, but because this only appears online in Flemish, I thought I’d share this lovely review from writer Antoine Légat published in Rootstime since he so kindly translated it for us!
WENDY COLONNA: NECTAR
It’s every December the same old story! When the unavoidable end-of-year lists come along, you can bet your bottom dollar that your colleagues unanimously fall for a record, the existence of which you didn’t even suspect, made by artists you hardly even heard of…if you ever did. This asks for exceptional measures during January to finally learn to listen to all the fine stuff you should have known before. But that’s not the worst of ordeals, because this recuperation makes you discover a lot of great music: it’s just wiping off arrears. It’s a whole lot sadder that in the course of the last weeks of the year a number of excellent records reach you, too late to be put in the final list of appreciation, which by definition is work in progress. Our ‘catwalk of this year’s models’ was ready and already published when we first were confronted with brilliant records as ‘Short Stories’ by Mister Inglish (alias Ton Engels) and ‘America Through The Eyes Of Woody’ by Champagne Charlie, both made in Holland, both actually from close to the Belgian border. From a lot further comes Wendy Colonna, more specifically from Austin, TX, and originally even from Louisiana.
Colonna is not unknown over here: she performed here more than once, sometimes in the company of Chad Pope. During her last visit, in September 2011, when she was here solo, an ad hoc band was compiled, Lazybones, harbouring Belgian musicians, and in a one day session a delightful seven song CD was recorded with a couple of Wendy’s songs and with a few covers (‘Lazybones’, great piece of songwriting by Johnny Mercer-Hoagy Carmichael; ‘Snowin’ In Raton’ by Townes Van Zandt) We were lucky to review ‘Barefoot In Belgium’, an article you can still find at www.rootstime.be . Since then musicians who took part in the recordings, or were linked to the Beyond The Flags protest song project, travel frequently to Texas (and Louisiana) to perform there. So it’s no surprise we found a competent and quite positive local review of a gig in Houston, TX, at the start of Februari in 2013, a concert with Wendy Colonna and support by Belgian top singer-songwriter Bruno Deneckere plus Tom De Poorter and Jeffrey Thielens, members of Lazybones. But here’s ‘Nectar’: we received Wendy’s fifth full CD halfway through November, but alas it took some time before we actually could listen to it…
‘Nectar’ is the direct successor to ‘We Are One’ of 2010. So Wendy has carefully taken her time ‘to get it right’ as she sings somewhere in ‘Dance with The Moon’, a delightful retrosong, that she wrote together with producer Mark Addison: hammond, banjo and upright bass, plus the singing saw of friend bluesman Guy Forsyth (again someone with strong ties with our country) make up for the 1930’s feel of the song. It goes to illustrate the enormous radius of action of Wendy and her people: besides southern rockers like the juicy opener ‘Dirty Things’, you get to hear, amongst others, blue eyed jazz à la Sade in ‘When Love Comes My Way’, but there’s also country torch song ‘Texas Summer Love’, embellished with the exquisitely played pedal steel and harmonica, ‘Bring Me Water’, a waltzing ballad with voices that roam through the heavens – good luck trying to get that melody out of your head, once you heard it! One thorough listening session sufficed to realise that this ‘champagne for the gods’, this Olympian nectar belongs to that select circle of top records of the year mentioned above.
The songs are all written by Wendy, except for two by Addison, who also co-wrote three other ones. They are all, without one single exception, pure gems. No weak spot to be uncovered. Wendy’s voice sounds lovelier and more attractive than ever: she meanders through this variety with distinct elegance. But she never sounds dready or sugary. The excellent bunch of road companions fall back on a rhythm section that plays with metronomical precision, courtesy of bass player Michael Stevens and the drummer that Wendy shares with her friend Carolyn Wonderland, the never less than sublime Rob Hooper, whose amazing versatility was again displayed during the most recent Beyond The Flags in Ardooie (see our review here at Rootstime) Addisons production is flawless, of which Wendy is well aware as can be deduced from the ‘thank you’ in the liner notes. No Belgians amongst the musicians, but a number of them are recited in the thank you list (fun to read!) Still there’s a Belgian participation: the extremely sober but effective art work is by Sanne De Mûelenaere.
A song that wraps it all up is reggae ‘Sleeping’ (composition by Mark Addison): a ravishing melody, a rhythmical pattern that conjures up sweet memories of ‘Stir It Up’, a chorus that takes possession of your head (‘We are sleeping, we are sleeping, we are keeping safe and warm. We are sleeping, we are sleeping, we are sleeping through the storm’), Wendy who sings a compassionate message of peace and warmth with just that right inflection, and on top of it all that intervention on acoustic guitar played by Mark. Pure nectar! At our little house on the prairie that song was to be heard all Christmas holidays long at volume ten with all inhabitants singing and cheering along, thanking the Lord that we have no neighbours. It’s a song from heaven like it’s a record from paradise!
Antoine Légat (Dutch original: January 8th 2014; this translation January 14th 2014)