Colin Carter 2018
Former FLASH frontman finds fashionable form to filter his influences into first solo offering.
Never a quintessential prog artist, although perceived as such thanks to his coming into prominence as part of a certain Peter Banks’ project, Colin Carter remains an enigma forty-odd years after the "Flash" LP’s cover caused a little furore, because no one heard the singer beyond the band – revived relatively recently for another lease of life. All of this became a perfect setup for the vocalist’s long overdue debut album, and there simply can be no expectations applied to the record whose creator started off with “Small Beginnings” yet presumably proceeded to bigger things which transpire on “One” where the very title has statement of independence embedded in it, and his songs are fittingly defiant, too. Playing most instruments here, the veteran delivers a variety of memorable performances that reflect his penchant for traditional pop number but are very contemporary in their sonic aspect.
With retro panache wrapping “Highway To Oblivion” so the vocals could reveal their velveteen qualities, Colin may admit there’s never a chance for wayward strangers to snatch a bit of fame yet there’s always a challenge to overcome, this cut’s aural luxury spilling into the Shakespearean passion of “Star Crossed” which would open an additional, honeyed depth to his pipes. While the unhurried grace of organ-oiled jangle behind “Wings” will keep Carter’s flight in check, his youthful voice oozes irresistible enthusiasm on such an infectious tune, before splitting into sweet harmony and supporting the tremulous top line, and rams home the swirling riff of “Obsession” to line up emotional dependencies in the right order.
Unlike it, “Reachin’ Out” is cinematically noirish, swagger-fueled romp through urban jungle that sees nocturnal jazz driven to predatory delirium with the help of the singer’s former colleague Mike Hough on drums and old friend Clint Bahr on bass, but the romanticism of “Cafe Elektric” seems misplaced in order give way to rather surrealistic visions. Yet whereas “Munich Song” – the only piece on display approaching a prog epic scope – unfolds as an epitome of dramatic dread, the riveting pirate shanty “Tortuga Tonight” pacifies the drift with an acoustic ebb and flow and passes potential bliss to “Sleeping With You” for an intimate, hymn-like finale of this strange trip.
“I walk the streets like I’m invisible,” intones Colin spiking the twang of “Underground” with a psychobilly intrigue, yet Colin’s ghostly days might well be over as the songs on “One” must make him stand out and get noticed.