Dusty Colours - The Tree Between Twelve & Twenty-Four
I have followed with interest the development of Dusty Colours and enjoyed immensely their various EP's as they experimented with a variety of different sounds and styles in an effort tom identify one which was, at the same time, truly theirs and truly different. I downloaded all their EP's and still have them on my iPod, listening to them whenever the fancy takes me. And now their first album has come out. I confess, being of a generation which prefers the physicality of music ownership, I happily shelled out a few quid to own a hard copy, self-produced, of this album.
The first thing that strikes you about this album is that it has a more professional sound to it. Whereas some of the earlier EP's were clearly, and this was evident from the sound, recorded in someone's bedroom, this has an altogether more professional feel to it. Yet it has lost none of the charm which would have been occasioned by the naivety of the earlier releases and is enhanced by the input of various family members, particularly the sometimes elegant, though understated flute, and Sam Pickering Pick, a fellow Englishman from the same county. Clearly, despite the barrier distance between Gloucestershire and northern California, clearly transatlantic internet communication has proven to be an enhancement to a sound, and a success.
The strength of Dusty Colours has always been the quality of the lyrics. Occasionally some songs did seem a little trite on earlier EP's, but when they write good lyrics, they are good - clever imagery, erudite references, adept use of language. So, when the opening track, "Stanza", references Casanova and Samuel Pepys you know right away that the qualities which made the duo worthy of listening to in the past have not been lost now that they have moved out of their respective bedrooms and into the hedonistic drunken fleshpits of university.
What has improved on the album is the music. There are more layers to it and a deeper, fuller sound and, dare I say, some good tunes as well. For example, "Plastic peppermint" has been reworked and the difference between the versions on The Tree between Twelve and Twenty Four is noticeable compared with the earlier EP version. The opening track, "Stanza" also has a great little melody in the second half of ther song and another great melody can be found on "Adopting a Stance (Under Golan Light)".
The result is a more rounded piece of work and one which is all the more enjoyable for it. Although the EP's were enlightening for the way in which the musical development of the duo and their sound progressed, you get the impression that this album is very much Dusty Colours as the finished article. At its heart is the creative use of the ukelele. That instrument has had something of a bad press, being all too often seen as something comical and, for many of us, associated with the smiling tweeness of George Formby. Here it comes into its own as an instrument which has a quality all its own, something which is exploited to its full extent by Dusty Colours.
The outstanding question now is, where to from here? I suppose that depends on what the duo wants. There is a strong case here for a greater exposure to their music, but I am unsure as to how they may go about this in a world where talent is a quality measured in thimblefuls filtered through autotune on tacky reality TV programmes. I hope they do get more exposure for the music scene could certainly do with some quality, original music which is not in the same mould as the norm. That is certainly what Dusty Colours have always promised to be. That is what they have now proven they are.
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