Some Things Just Take Time
Never has there been a better time to unleash Colorama’s new album upon the world. No less than 10 years in the making, Welsh singer-songwriter, music producer and multi-instrumentalist Carwyn Ellis has honed the fittingly-titled Some Things Just Take Time, flavoured with the great US tradition of delivering strong narratives through timeless song-writing.
“The title, and much of this album, is inspired by my deep admiration for American music; the kind of titles you’d see on the raw blues records of the Fat Possum label, along with a dollop of old country wisdom, but manifested as an acoustic-flavoured record,” Carwyn explains. Tenderly nodding to US songwriters such as John D Loudermilk (‘So Long’ recalls the Nashville legend’s knack for story-telling) or the distinct vocal and guitar sound of Glen Campbell, Some Things Just Take Time is an album that equally finds passion for the finely-crafted songs of Townes Van Zandt or fearless Celtic soul of Van Morrison’s as for the 1930s-1940s American pop of The Ink Spots, The Mills Brothers, and Bing Crosby.
Telling tales of a trapped miner writing to his sweetheart (‘In Your Memory’) or changing perspective to that of a kid visiting an adult who’s gone off the rails (‘It’s Not You’) the album possesses a voice of the people, whether sound-tracked with steel guitar (‘Special Way’) or beautiful baroque-flavoured arrangements (Sonny and Cher cover ‘Baby Don’t Go’). Written after Carwyn’s first visit to America in 2000, ‘Halcyon Days’ recalls the state-side trip which had a profound effect on him. “I was in Memphis to record at Ardent Studios with my dear friends, the North Mississippi Allstars. I fell for the northern Mississippi hill country blues around the time I met them,” Cardiff native Carwyn recalls of his fondness for a sound, developed over 4000 miles from his childhood home in Anglesey.
Among those friends inspiring his sonic voyage of discovery, Carwyn called upon the expertise of Edwyn Collins. Following recent collaboration Avocet Revisited – in which the pair presented a graceful, evocative homage to Bert Jansch’s ‘79 avian-themed Avocet – Some Things Just Take Time sees Carwyn reuniting with his long-time friend and collaborator. “I love working with Edwyn. He’s a dear old friend – I met him 13 or 14 years ago now, just over a year before he had his stroke. He’s got a brilliant and very witty way with words and he’s a true musical explorer, a pleasure to share the creative process with. We have a good laugh!”
Further musical expertise was provided by Cody and Luther Dickinson (ex-Black Crowes and North Mississippi Allstars) on guitars, piano and percussion, plus Rob and James Walbourne on guitar, mandolin, dobro and percussion (The Rails, The Pretenders, The Pogues). BJ Cole adds pedal steel guitar and Jason Wilson (The James Hunter 6) plays double bass. The record also features drummers Luca Nieri and Rupert Brown, plus violinist Emma Smith (Seamus Fogarty, Meilyr Jones, Hot Chip). “There’s good people on this record!” exclaims Carwyn, “it’s hard to mess up when you’ve such fine comrades around you!”
Recorded as live to capture the vibrance of Colorama’s performances, the album was put straight to tape in London at Edwyn’s West Heath Yard Studios and at Liam Watson’s Toerag Studios; the ruggedly honest folk blues sound of R.L. Burnside’s ‘Long Haired Doney’ was recorded as London burned during the 2010 riots. “Edwyn and his engineer Seb, as well as Liam at Toerag, just ran the tape and let us go for it,” Carwyn says of the analogue settings, giving a quintessentially British take on the traditional American sound. “Their encouragement and the fun atmosphere were great incentives to perform. The spaces were perfect and they really helped us to capture the moment by not beating about the bush with musical decisions.”
For an artist to whom music comes as naturally as song does to birds, 10 years to record an album might seem a long time. A professional musician for 20 years – since first starting out on the piano until recently adding to his writing credits with St Etienne (on their latest ‘Home Counties’ album), performing keyboard duties with the Pretenders and through his current role as a radio DJ on Soho Radio – music is all Carwyn has known. Some Things Just Take Time freewheels like dandelions on the breeze and glimmers like sun-kissed skies, making it all look very easy. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, I can’t conceive of doing anything else,” Carwyn tells. “It’s been a while making its way into existence, but then some things DO just take time…”