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Album Review: Jack Colwell And The Owls - Picture Window

10 July 2012 | 6:45 pm | Chris Archibald

...Picture Window shows a songwriter with accomplished skills and the ability to pick clever collaborations.

With a voice reminiscent of '60s flower power balladeers, Sydney's Jack Colwell has released his debut album Picture Window. With the expansion from EP to short album the release begins as it ends with complex, melodic arrangements on piano heightened by an over-arching flute. Colwell's vocal delivery is honest and utilises a natural, softly-textured voice to full effect which suits the retro mood.

These elements can be seen on tracks such as Captains Melody, which with its minimalist backing music lets his voice shines through. This track, as with many others, could find a comfortable home on an early Cat Stevens record. Yet with a boldness that surprises as well as entertains, the album shifts into a purple patch with Picture Window, Banquet and Spitfire. The title track begins with a well-executed guitar riff, giving Colwell and his backing singers room to create a track as catchy as it is enjoyable. Banquet on the other hand delivers something unexpected, with a dark distorted riff toying with Colwell's almost humorous take on the vision of a dark and melancholic Lothario. Spitfire then shifts down gears again musically, yet the lyrical delivery remains consistent with another piano-driven examination of regret, failure and loss.

With only eight tracks and a pinch over 30 minutes to sink your teeth into, Picture Window shows a songwriter with accomplished skills and the ability to pick clever collaborations. Yet it is within grungy half-light that Colwell shines. These sticky moments of introspection give the airy feel of the album a drama that raises it above the alt-pop norm.