Image Courtesy of Colin Lillie
Scottish born singer songwriter Colin Lillie recently launched his new self titled EP at Monte’s Lounge in the Central Australian town of ALice Springs. The journey from his working class Scottish roots to his spiritual home in Australia’s outback has been an interesting one for Lillie, and it is this journey that has shaped his music and ultimately his latest solo release.
Produced by fellow Alice Springs based musician Amira Pylioti (Tecoma) and featuring an amazing array of session musicians, Colin Lille is at its heart about Lillie’s voice, both in the literal and metaphorical sense. Combining his rich, accented singing style with a wealth of personal experience Lillie takes the listener on his journey, his biographical lyrics only really scratching at the surface of the true meaning behind his words. And as there are only four tracks we thought we’d give you our thoughts on each
Much of Colin Lillie’s music draws from the move he’s made from his native Scotland to the deserts of Central Australia and the self discovery he’s made as a result. “New Land” epitomises this theme, chronicling his transition to his new home. With the simple lines “My blood may have never bled on this land/but my blood now belongs to this land/I’ll ne’er return to greener fields of afar/The dream has brought this soul to its heart” Lillie manages to capture his attachment to his adopted homeland perfectly.
I love the interplay of the mandolin and fiddle on “New Land” (with the thrumming guitar keeping the track grounded). The tracks epilogue replaces the mandolin with a percussive bass and Lillie wailing his advice – “Be brave, be bold, let the wind carry you” – to others who are searching for that place called home.
“Man’s Broken Heart”
I feel as though Colin Lillie has a number of demons in his past he has either run from or is attempting to deal with through his music. “Man’s Broken Heart”, while generally sung from an outsiders perspective, reveals Lillie as a man tortured by the loss of a great love. Not afraid to bear his heart and soul the protagonist of “Man’s Broken Heart” seems to be pleading with his lover not to break his heart offering up the stars themselves as reward – yet I get the feeling the offers, the pleading, are somewhat futile and made by a man who has already lost everything.
I love the backing vocals from Amira Pylioti on this track – she has such an expressive and distinctive voice yet she manages not to overpower Lillie. Once again the fiddle solo ties the song together.
As the antidote to the all-is-lost themes from “Man’s Broken Heart”,”2 Hearts” is by far the catchiest track on the EP. Driven by a jazzy piano part that could easily underpin a Michael Buble song (in a good way!) “2 Hearts” is the upbeat and positive affirmation of a man in the throws of new (and true?) love.
Yet Lillie is still wary of love having obviously been burnt before. He still pleads with his new love in the chorus – “Uh-oh-oh/Don’t let go” – and you can tell he’s wary of just how good things are. Musically I think Colin Lillie’s voice is really well suited to this kind of jazz-infused-folk and once again the dulcet tones of Amira Pylioti’s backing vocals complete gorgeous mix.
And now we’re firmly back with Lillie’s demons (not that we ever truly left). It’s nice to see him in almost-solo mode in this track with just his voice and guitar along with some very understated bass – it helps expose Colin Lillie as a truly talented songwriter. The idea of “dirty water” running through his veins as a metaphor for the misdeeds of his past along with his pleading for more time on earth to make amends – “When the angels come won’t they please take their time” – seem to surmise the themes running through the entire EP – that Lillie is a changed man that needs to make up for his old life.
The production on the EP is absolutely superb and is exemplified by “Dirty Water”, a song just as much about the space between the notes as it is about the lyrics and melody. If this is the example that Colin Lillie has chosen showcase his music to the world then he should be very proud. I can’t wait to hear more.