The Quincy Factor
September 13, 2006
Quincy Coleman gained early recognition for her gutsy woman-and-guitar stage presence, stand-alone vocals and songs that evoked comparisons to American country legends like Dwight Yoakam. Even Dolly Parton endorsed her as having "all the goods, a beautiful voice, such sweet emotion and tenderness." But despite the country-themed buzz about this rising star from L.A., her sophomore album Come Closer feels more smoky jazz bar than Nashville saloon.
Perhaps because so much of the best songwriting done today skirts the edge of alternative country (Slaid Cleaves, Kathleen Edwards, Lucinda Williams), it's natural to want to similarly classify a writer such as Coleman who delves so deeply into the universal theme of unhappy love. But Coleman seems committed to also creating instrumentally memorable music, incorporating a variety of horns and keys into arrangements of her undeniably contagious melodies.
Coleman's songs aren't particularly epic; in fact they are rarely more than two verses and a chorus. But the appeal of her songwriting isn't so much in the complexity of her lyrics but rather the opposite. In "Sleep Late," she describes lying in bed with a lover:
Morning is calling us
Window shades keep the sun away
The room is cool and calm I get the feeling
I must be dreaming
Coleman the recording artist then reaches beyond songwriting as a tool to illustrate the time or place or life-pause she has chosen to share. Among her many talents is the ability to capture a moment with stark simplicity, then fill in the emotional canvas around it with a recklessly brazen trumpet solo (the fabulous Stewart Cole on the first track, "Calling Your Name") or accordion riff and the urgent swell of her own jewel-toned vocals.
Come Closer is slickly produced and stylishly dressed - somewhat surprising for a currently unsigned artist, but not necessarily for Coleman, who has famous roots in L.A. (actor parents) and a considerable performance history under her belt. Perhaps it is the dramatic influences in her past that give the album a soundtrack or musical score quality. Coleman's music has already supported drama on the big screen in the Oscar-winning film Crash (the soundtrack was also nominated). Come Closer is an album of such depth and variety that it is not only memorable but likely to be the source of a number of audio-linked memories, associations with "that song that was playing that time when that happened."