15 Apr 2021
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Colette Rivers - Album Review: Memory Lake

12 Jan 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

Colette Rivers is an American-born, New-Zealand raised, self-proclaimed 'Kiwi', with a deep connection to the earth and sea and has named her album after "the bonny, bonny banks of Lake Taupo" where she moved when she was just 11 years old. Her roots are in folk and singer-songwriter, yet while the acoustic guitar is always very important to the sound, she is not averse to bringing in other electric instruments to create soundscapes which mean the songs are very different to each other. The anchor for the album is her wonderful vocals, which are full of depth and passion, as musically this can often lead in directions one simply does not expect.

Take Kamikaze Girlfriend for example, which starts with picked acoustic, gentle percussion and emotive electric guitar and double-tracked vocals. It is gentle, thoughtful, and like all her songs creates a world all of itself which brings the listener in close, and then at 2:51 the synths come in, totally changing the feel of the song while also staying true to what had gone before. Somehow it became darker and someone listening to this section of the song would not have been surprised to learn it was by New Order.

Her vocals have an edge that somehow remind me of Patti Smith each time I play this album, yet her vocals contain far more velvet and richness, and she has obviously been influenced by other American singers such as Sheryl Crow and Stevie Nicks, and has taken all these threads and moved them somewhere else. This never sounds like a debut album, as it is full of confidence and assuredness, as if the person at the heart of it all had been doing this for many years. Songs such as Dipshit, with its backwards sounds, layering of material and strong use of synths is as far away from folk as one can imagine, yet when she starts singing and brings in a mandolin it all makes so much sense. The arrangements are intensely complex, yet also simplistic, all designed to act for the perfect vehicle for her voice and songs, and never taking away from it. While the use of multiple instruments is an important facet of the album one can also imagine Colette being content to be on stage all on her own with just an acoustic for company.

Her vocals are incredibly diverse, sometimes thick and sliding notes, keeping lower in the register, others clear and high, yet others cracking with emotion, so each song feels like a real live performance and the listener is invested throughout, wondering what is next around the corner. This is a very strong debut indeed, from someone who is bringing together diverse styles and textures and bringing them together in a way which definitely works. Warm and inviting while also bringing together genres in a way which may be challenging to some, here we have folk and singer-songwriter styles being mashed together with indie and alternative rock in the hands of someone who knows exactly what she wants to achieve.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Colette Rivers

An indie-folk artist, New Zealand-American songwriter Colette Rivers brings together an eclectic mix of guitars, drums, folk instruments and synths to create music that is both uplifting and melancholic.

Rivers’ voice shivers with the raw expressiveness of greats like Bruce Springsteen or Stevie Nicks coupled with a high, litling range similar to Joni Mitchell or Joan Baez. When she opens up, she's a powerhouse.

Enter EP Wandering Thoughts - a 4 track release featuring Rivers’ latest single Kamikaze Girlfriend written about the twisted ways people can give all to love. It was written and recorded/ produced in Rivers’ home studio in the Wairarapa, NZ, just outside of the capital, Wellington.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Colette Rivers

Releases

Memory Lake
Year: 2021
Type: Album

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