JENNY COLQUITT – Staring At The Moon (own label)

Staring At The MoonStaring At The Moon, her second full-length album, co-produced and performed with David Gorst, sees Colquitt building on her considerable strengths as both writer and musician, ranging across pop, folk and rock with total assurance. It opens in contemplative form, tentative piano providing the intro to ‘Bravest of the Brave’, a letter of encouragement to a friend going through troubled times (“It seems that people talk here of your crazy attitude/But we know that deep inside it is the greatest part of you…Won’t you listen to your Brothers, as they tell you not to fall/‘Coz you’re so much like your Mother to them, everything and more/And you’re so much like your Father, and not only in your face/And every single part of you is perfect in its place…And the people who surround you only want you to be safe”) as the number builds to a soaring climax.

It’s followed by another euphoric, big production number, the cascading chords of ‘No One Loves Me Like You’ which, if didn’t know better you might think was a Coldplay or Snow Patrol cover, the power and the pace taken down a few notches for the melancholic ‘I’m Fading’ (“I’m wasted, it’s hard to breathe/I’m lonely, in this heartache/I’m bleeding out, please come for me/And let me out, I’m fading”) which, soaring as it reaches a climax, you might imagine as a stage musical showpiece sung by Elaine Paige. Stripped back to piano, with its opening line “It’s been seventeen days, since you flew/Over those hills, we both knew”, ‘Without You’, a slow swelling tribute to a lost loved one and recovering from the grief (“You heard I’ve been crying/You heard I’ve been lying, and I don’t know why/If there is a Father, bathe me in holy water and let me drown/I know one day I’ll turn this ship around”), may well prompt thoughts of Sinead’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’. Suffice to say, it can carry that weight.

Another bruised romantic piano ballad ‘I Won’t Let You Drive’ follows a relationship’s journey through the turmoil and hardships of love, miscommunication and heartbreak making use of motoring metaphors (“I’m writing you a note that I will leave for when/I can’t find the words to tell you everything…but it’s too late now, you found the words/I left them in the car/Can you let me in?/‘Coz I can only drive us so far… You’re way too focussed on the passenger side”). I don’t want to overdo the comparisons, but when she soars here she touches the heights of Whitney’s ‘I Will Always Love You’.

Again based around piano, classical motifs in evidence, the rhythmically churning ‘For A Moment’ is another dramatic moment, the light breaking through the clouds that have cast a dark shadow (“You see me smile and turn your back to me/For a time I’d forgotten, how the lost are living here!/The ones at the bottom, were they ever here?!/Don’t be shy, rescue me/I’m alive, I’m alive/And I’m fallin’ to my knees/For a moment, let me breathe”).

A similar lyrical conceit (“let me in/To see the dark is over!/You’re living/Oh just breatheNow that you’re better and seeing things the way they really are/Don’t tell me you’re not happier now, now that it all makes sense”) informs the slow building anthemic post-break-up ‘Dear Me’ with its piano shimmers and guitar solo bridge, followed in turn by the ebb and flow of the rousing ‘Fallin’ Angels’ (Thea Gilmore the touchstone here), the big choruses featuring the voices of fans who send in clips of them singing ‘let’s not fight, let’s unite, we are fallin’ angels tonight’ in a song that touches on themes of forgiveness, greed, the environment, depression and the defiance to stand our ground in the face of adversity (“If we never lost the fight, we would only be alive/We’d have lost our given right to be warriors of life”). It’s hard to resist the urge to hold your smartphones aloft and shine the light to the skies.

It heads to a close with ‘My Design’, piano intro giving way to an underpinning heavy drum beat and orchestral sweeps as she again unleashes the full force of her vocals on a call to take charge of your own destiny (“Show me how we fight for our lives!/This is my design!”) that comes laden with yet more metaphors (“Do you remember when the day/Forced the nighttime into shade?/Rivers, forests, ponds and lakes/Forced to waterfalls of hate”). Finally, bowing out on an initially more contemplative, calmer note, there’s the title track, etched with sparse piano notes as, building to a steady drum beat and massive chords, it celebrates the power of love to restore and heal (“I can see the world ‘round us fallin’/And here we are spending our days staring at the moon/ Everything we touch here is broken/But all I can think of is thinking of you… I feel you near me, from way up high/I learned to love you, you learned to fly”) as it quietly ebbs into the night.

Her previous EPs and debut album sparked with the promise of great things to come – this is the full voltage power station.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website:

‘No One Loves Me Like You’ – live:

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