This week’s album review brings Wendy Colonna’s seventh album, “Nectar,” a roots-influenced reflection on themes as universal as redemption, temptation and the natural world. However, “Nectar” takes the often overdone nature of the subject matter and provides a truly fresh and enjoyable album. Produced by Mark Addison, who also played on the disc as well as either writing or co-writing many of the tracks with Colonna, the album is a sumptuous tour through swamps, smoky pool halls and empty church pews. Addison and Colonna make a powerful songwriting duo and each pen individual tracks that all combine to create a surprising album that manages to be both reverent and sexy.
Each track spotlights a different facet of Colonna’s voice which is at times reminiscent of Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris and Grace Potter. “Dirty Things” in particular has the Louisiana sound of Colonna’s homeland and the story-telling lyrics seem to borrow heavily from Raitt’s style of songwriting. “Bring me Water” is the most traditional country/bluegrass sound on the album with pleading vocals that would be at home in a simple country church. By contrast, Colonna’s vocals on “Hurricane” feel like satin sheets to the skin with bluesy horns as the bed they lay on. “Dance with the Moon” seems to come directly from a 1920s speakeasy and, like almost every track, makes the listener want to dance.
The only drawback to the album is that when the player is turned off very little of the instrumental backing stands out. Only Colonna’s voice stays with you. The other instruments, though perfectly complementary to each song, are pretty standard with one exceptional piano solo on “When Love Comes my Way” and acoustic guitar solo on “Sleeping.” Colonna and Addison may have done that intentionally, however, with Colonna stating that she wanted the album to be, “all songs I could tour solo or with a full band… and to make sure every instrument on board supported the song.” The end result is a memorable album with tracks that feel well connected yet could easily become fodder for separate future albums.
Unlike many artists who desire to bring their sound to a broader audience, Colonna does not lose the individuality that makes her work so special. There is a little genre hopping on the album (from alt country to blues to reggae to pop) but it works mainly because her voice is a magnificent unifier. Overall, it is a well-rounded compilation of tracks that highlight her enormous vocal talent. “Nectar” deserves repeat listening, preferably in the car with the windows down or outside enjoying the natural world around you.
Hear our Interview Podcast with Wendy Colonna