San Diego, California-based outfit The Color Forty Nine unveils their brand-new EP, String Ladders. According to the band, they “specialise in the genre of music, and songs, and such.” Translation: The Color Forty Nine’s sound is not readily categorised, enveloping elements of various styles of music, at once nuanced, plush, and unpredictable.
From time to time, The Color Forty Nine evokes R.E.M, yet on the next track, harks back to the prog-rock textures of King Crimson, followed by suggestions of the SoCal soft rock of Poco or J.D. Souther.
Comprising Phil Beaumont (vocals, lyrics), Matt Resovich (violin, keyboards, Casiotone, tenor guitar), Scott Mercado (drums, keyboards), and Jason Hooper (bass), The Color Forty Nine dropped their self-titled debut album in 2018, gathering two nominations, including “Best New Artist,” from the San Diego Music Awards.
While locked down in 2020, the band generated an array of new material, working with Rubén Albarrán of Café Tacvba and with Smithsonian Prize-winning artist Hugo Crosthwaite on an animated video, along with writing scores for documentaries and films.
Having shared the stage with Pinback, El Ten Eleven, Acid Mothers Temple, Eric Bachmann, and Film School in 2019, The Color Forty Nine toured Japan, followed by a series of performances in Mexico City before the pandemic.
Encompassing seven tracks, the EP begins with the title track, opening on emerging, gentle colours, followed by the entry of Phil’s rich, resonant voice. Elegant filaments of sonic hues infuse the tune with haunting, almost Celtic savours, vaguely reminiscent of R.E.M.
Highlights include “I’m Going To Try,” rolling out on a low-slung organ, imbuing the tune with dirge-like ambience as Phil’s hushed yet potent tones give the lyrics trembling portent. “Fly On” merges a sparkling piano with soft patinas from a guitar, along with sighing, redolent vocals. For some reason, the song conjures up memories of It’s A Beautiful Day’s “White Bird.”
“Another World,” a personal favourite, travels on rounded percussion topped by shimmering hues, imbuing the tune with delicious colouration and a lush, undulating rhythm. Glowing harmonies give the song radiant depth and warm, indulgent timbres.
The last track, “Hold My Hand,” features lustrous sheens of strident harmonics merging into folk-rock surfaces. Phil’s dreamy voice gives the lyrics yearning flavours.
Rippling with assorted mellifluous textures, subtle contagious rhythms, and charismatic vocals, String Ladders glimmers with sumptuous washes of sound.
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