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In pictures of Canadian musician Johnny Coull, he looks younger than his music would make you imagine. With that 70s flair and so much passion behind each song, you imagine some Billy Joel or Elton John-aged gentleman tinkering at the white keys. That’s not so here. Coull’s music is beyond “age.”
“The Orpheum” is a delightful track that starts the album off with such a swinging beat. At times it’s reminiscent of ELO and even some Elton John, but it kind of has a dash of circus sound to it. Maybe it’s the horns, or maybe it’s just the upbeat presence the song lends to the atmosphere. I could almost imagine the kids riding a carousel while the clowns were all trying to cram themselves into a tiny car. It’s definitely a catchy song and one that will stick with you long after you finish listening to it. The lyrics are kind of trippy at times, as well.
Listen to 'The Orpheum.'
“The Love That You’ve Lost” is a beautiful song that makes me think of “Tiny Dancer” because of the mellowness and the sound of the piano. This song has a super bluesy feel to it. It’s like a nice smooth shot of whiskey on a cold night. You’re alone and trying to stay warm, and this song is slowly soothing you from the background of your life.
The title track, “That Cold Year,” starts out with such an understated sound. It’s like a whisper. It feels like Coull is simply talking to us, telling us a story about the people around him. It’s such a beautiful song, so simple and yet full of so much talent and intricacy. However, it’s still not my favorite song on this new album.
“I Left My Baby Grand In New Orleans” is one of the songs that stands out the most on this release (though still not my favorite track). This one has a big feel to it and sounds like something from the piano greats of the 70s. It’s an equal blend of jazz and blues, with a big band feel to it with all of the instruments working together to make it such a full sounding song.
While there are way more songs than what I’ve mentioned on this album, my favorite is “The Memory Machine.” I like it because it has kind of a David Bowie feel to it. It’s an interesting blend of sounds that have a really deep and desperate feel to them. The piano on this song makes the song—it just wouldn’t have the same effect without it. It has kind of a space-like sensation within the instrumentation, but the lyrics themselves lend to the transcendence of time. This is an epic song, and while all of the songs on this album are magnificent in their own way, this song definitely stands out the most among them. It ends so smoothly and quietly that you feel as though there should have been more.
Listen to 'The Memory Machine.'
Laced with a variety of sounds, Coull’s music can easily be compared to so many greats. One song may sound like it’s inspired by The Rolling Stones or Queen, while the next sounds like something completely different. It’s singer/songwriter music with a gracious rock groove that is definitely classic rock influenced. It’s bluesy at times and jazzy at others. The piano work by Coull is definitely comparable to the greats, like Elton John and Billy Joel. The piano in each song is one of the things that makes this such a great album. It adds so much flavor to already great sounding songs. It’s just an amazing collection of tunes that will leave your ears and soul pleased.