Three Colours Dark – Love’s Lost Property (Album Review)

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Some bands are worth searching out. If Three Colours Dark’s latest release wasn’t on your radar – nor their debut album in 2020 – it might be worth your time if classy, contemporary pop prog-rock is to your liking. The duo of Jonathan Edwards and Rachel Cohen established their reputation over 20 years ago in the celebrated band Karnataka, though they had been collaborating for over a decade prior. After having spent years apart in other bands such as The Reasoning, Panic Room and Luna Rossa, the two have reunited in an organic way, free from outside pressures or expectations. In this new project, Edwards provides the bulk of the musical authorship via a wide array of keyboards, while Cohen delivers her lyrics and melodies through her signature vocals, always a delight to hear and one of the band’s strongest calling cards. Bolstered by the indispensable multi-instrumentalist and engineer Tim Hamill, as well as a number of special guests, Three Colours Dark serves up plenty of charms with music that goes down easy yet still engages the listener.

The title track exemplifies the band’s approach to arrangement and mood, opening the album at a leisurely but impactful 8 minutes. Guest Kate Ronconi’s violin yearningly calls out over a bed of synths before Hamill’s open electric guitar arpeggio sets the tone for the bulk of the song. Enter Cohen. Her lyrics frequently wrestle with darker themes of dysfunctional relationships: gaslighting, abuse, narcissism, heartbreak. Yet the strength in her voice, the layered effects of multi-tracking harmonies, and her phrasing provide a soothing delivery over this troubled terrain. Fortunately, there is also hope to be found in her journey and, ultimately, rebirth. In addition to Cohen’s vocals on this track, lead electric guitar accompanies the length of much of the song, providing an additional voice. This is played brilliantly by two guitarists, initially by Hamill who then hands the baton to special guest Dave Gregory (XTC). Towards the end Steve Balsamo joins in to offer a counterpoint male vocal, capping off a sumptuous opening track.

“Dark Before Dawn” continues the momentum quite nicely, acoustic guitar strumming mixing well with the keys, vocals and rhythmic grooves. Although there is no drummer in the band, Hamill’s drum programming suits the music perfectly which is both a relief and a pleasure. Dave Gregory delights on his electric guitar throughout this piece, making it one of the highlights of the album and a natural choice for a single. In a just world, this song alone would garner enough radio play to draw attention to this project.

A trio of keyboard-led songs follows, all of them worthy ballads in their own right, but taking the tone of the album down for a brief pause. Each one has their charms: the guest oboe of Catherine Tanner-Williams on “Requiem”; the intimate trio of grand piano, voice and violin on “Wish I Wished You Well”; and the culminating chorus of “Last Day On Earth”. However, by the time “The Circus” comes to town, we are ready for the strumming guitar and jaunty rhythm to kick some more life into the proceedings, which this track convincingly accomplishes, once again featuring Ronconi’s spirited violin playing.

“Love’s Lost Property” Album Artwork

Although Three Colours Dark is primarily dedicated to writing original material, they chose a cover to be the album’s first single and surprisingly their pick is from Duran Duran. Perhaps not so surprisingly, the band is able to transform “Ordinary World” into a Three Colours Dark classic, completely making it their own with a lush arrangement which surpasses the original version with ease. Clever vocal and violin arrangements add that special touch. Considering their debut album had an excellent cover of Richard Thompson’s “Ghost In the Wind” featuring Dave Gregory once again, perhaps this band is on to something with their covers after all.

“Eye For An Eye” lands rather heavily in the lyrical department but is uplifted by a guest sax solo spot from Steve Simmons. It builds convincingly and when Hamill departs into a middle-eastern scale on his guitar briefly, the song’s build pays off. Closing with an acoustic reprise of the title track is a nice touch, although yet another bittersweet moment reflecting on the ending of a relationship. “…and where is the treasure we found? It’s just love’s lost property.”

Building on the strengths of their debut album last year (also recommended), “Love’s Lost Property” carries the band’s evolution further, affirming the decision by Cohen and Edwards to reunite. While Cohen’s vocals claim the starring role, Edwards’ strengths in the background hold all of the pieces together, even as other musical guests swirl around him. His co-production with Hamill ensures that each song lands confidently and pleasantly in the listener’s ear with a lush soundscape that calls for repeat listenings. For Karnataka fans this is a slam dunk. Hopefully an even wider audience will be drawn in to the charms of Three Colours Dark.

Released by: Firefly Music / Burning Shed
Released on: October 9th, 2021
Genre: Progressive Rock

Musicians:

  • Rachel Cohen / Vocals
  • Jonathan Edwards / Grand piano, rhodes, wurlitzer & synths
  • Tim Hamill / Electric & acoustic guitars, bass guitar & drum programming

With special guests:

  • Steve Balsamo / Vocals
  • Andrew ‘Wal’ Coughlan / Double bass
  • Dave Gregory / Electric guitar
  • Kate Ronconi / Violin
  • Steve Simmons / Tenor saxophone
  • Catherine Tanner-Williams / Oboe

“Love’s Lost Property” Track-listing:

1. Love’s Lost Property
2. Dark Before Dawn
3. Requiem
4. Last Day On Earth
5. Wish I Wished You Well
6. The Circus
7. Ordinary World
8. Eye For An Eye
9. Love’s Lost Property (Reprise)

8.6 Excellent

A year after their debut release, the duo of Three Colours Dark returns with a followup which proves the band’s trajectory is on the rise. Sumptuously produced and arranged, “Love’s Lost Property” gives Rachel Cohen a platform to shine vocally, while bandmate Jonathan Edwards crafts a lush backdrop replete with special guests. Mature and classy, this a project to keep an eye and ear on.

  • Songwriting 8
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 7.5
  • Production 10
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