Thanks to my buddy at Robert’s Country Blog I found my way to the music of Colin Boutwell, specifically his album ‘Gas Station Roses’, released last month. Imagine my surprise when I found out Colin was raised less than 100 miles from me in good ol’ Massachusetts. After you read this article, it’ll be obvious that I’ll be at the next live show north of Rt. 2 with a Sharpie and V-neck; Hopefully Colin is adept at signing through chest hair.
Those who have been following this page for some time will know that there isn’t much I love more than when an artist bends genre lines to create a style all their own, and Colin does exactly that. When you start weaving together different styles it’s easy for an album to get a bit unruly, which is where quality production and song placement become very important. Well assembled would be how I would describe the production here, and that is what makes this bunch of great songs work so well as a whole album.
Below you will find a breakdown of how the songs hit me; I don't usually break things down to each song, but they are all so different that I felt the need to do it that way. My work schedule has been crazy, so this article took me the better part of a week to put together, but I really enjoyed writing it.
“Flowers” starts the album off somber, letting Colin’s voice handle most of the work. I love how the garden plays the metaphor of a man who changed his ways, even if he knew it was too late. We hold hope for his next chance at cultivating something other than soil.
“Something’s Wrong with My Radio” is one I think we can all relate to a bit, I know I sure do. 15 years ago I got so burnt out on the radio country that I went to the internet to find new music, realized how much was out there, and haven’t looked back; something tells me Mr. Boutwell isn’t too different than myself in that respect.
“Grandpa’s Ground” is the first song I heard, and it’s a nearly perfect country anthem. I knew Colin was going to be up my alley when I heard it. This one leans more to the country side than most of the album, but it’s a perfect contrast to “No Excuses” and helps keep the album on an even keel.
“Hey Virginia” makes me want to get in the car and cruise. This is a snared boot-stomper with lots of different background instruments, all coming together to create a great bed for Colin’s vocals as he woos his lady. This might be my favorite on the album, maybe, it’s tough to choose.
On “Departure" I feel an almost Slaid Cleaves style folky side, then the speak-sing of an alternative lost love song. The pace changes and guitars that wail with emotion work perfect with the background singers to add many layers to this wistful ballad.
“Break My Heart Tonight” has the legs to run up the Texas Country charts if it can crack the surface. Everything about it is a perfect radio single, and I hope it can make a run at it.
“Annabelle” effortlessly blends rock and country into a scorching, guitar heavy rocker; those wailing axes from “Departure” come back to haunt the end of the song and it’s lovely.
“Joy in the Wound” and “Look Away” include female vocals to great effect; though vastly different songs (Slow croon vs boot stomper), they sit well together.
Just in case you didn’t catch the 90’s alternative vibe hidden throughout the album, Colin threw in a cover of the Alice in Chains classic “No Excuses”. Now nearly 25 years old (What!?), I can remember this song getting tons of play, even years after it’s charting success. I enjoyed this cover, and it reinforced my suspicions of Colin’s eclectic tastes.
“Wild and Free” continues one of the strong undertones of the album, the wistfulness that comes with aging out of the freedoms of youth. I suspect that has a lot to do with timing, as Colin heads toward closing out his third decade, which is about the same time I looked back on everything to make sure I had myself on the right path.
“Family” winds the album down with “Different strokes for different folks” lyrics. It’s a slow one, describing different types of family, ending with the ones chosen rather than being given. I love the nod to REK at the end.
'Gas Station Roses' is a perfect introduction to Colin Boutwell; I'm very impressed with his talent, but also how well his varying styles and influences are assembled on this album.
Download the album wherever you buy music and find out more about Colin Boutwell on his website and Facebook.
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