A Bridge worth traveling on.
Five years ago, Jamie Scott and Tommy Danvers began working together on a piece that would eventually hit the top of my personal chart during the summer of 2012: “Stare Into The Sun”. It spent three weeks in that position. However, it was that duo’s first big single, “Free”, that gave Graffiti6 the top song of my calendar year 2012. It’s a classic in my books. Though their airplay and album sales have unfortunately been limited in the States, they’ve managed to keep going through touring and the subsequent recording of this followup album.
Mastered last year and originally due for release on the duo’s label, Capitol Records, the project was sitting on the shelves with no concrete updates from the group or label for months. Then, earlier this year, it was announced that Scott would be issuing a solo album, Hurricane, later this year. He’s been previewing tracks from the effort in concert; a single, “Gold”, with singer Christina Perri, is expected at a yet-to-be determined date. Just weeks ago, The Bridge, teased over many months, finally saw a confirmed release date. It’s now finally out in stores for everyone to hear. So many feelings, so little time. Let’s try to sort this out, shall we? (Spoiler alert: it’s pretty much everything.)
At the top of my list is the percussive-driven title track, “The Bridge”, an edgy pop composition with a shade of a Bollywood touch. It’s by far the most instant song on here and would have given them a killer reintroduction to the U.S. charts if it was the leadoff single from the set. Against the pounding and thumping away is a more tender lyric about a man yearning for his lover in a state that isn’t so lucid. Scott questions, “Where’s the bridge we built that takes me home?/’Cause nothing means nothing at all without your love.” The powerful combination of the two delivers not only an excellent track, but somewhat of a bond between The Bridge and debut album Colours, a futuristic fusion to their psychadelic past.
Just as amazing is track six, “Under The Mask”, looping a light-hearted piano melody through a pure pop sound. This could easily be adapted into a dance record, but in its original form, it packs enough of a punch to standout as a solid radio worthy song. Its uplifting message and bright chorus only further its status as an anthem for the insecure and down: “There is a light in your heart/There is a light burning a fire in the dark/Under the mask, we’re beautiful/So let out the light, no need to hide anymore.” It’s really a lovely tune in all the aspects of it.
Of course, the adult contemporary fare in the bunch shines in a similar manner, most notably on the fourth track “Settle For Your Love”. As the title suggests, the song is about a second-rate romance, but one that’s passionate and fulfilling enough to satisfy the protagonist. He states, “When I feel lost, down and confused/Darling, you hold me, and the wires are removed.” Built on a more relaxing base, the song picks up in intensity towards the ending, when an almost Celtic-themed arrangement and marching band patterned drum line turn a straight-forward song into a more traditional tune.
Also in that soft rock realm is “Angels and Devils” in the seventh position on the tracklisting. Once again, the piano takes the lead on this one, as well as the gospel-tinged flavor found on fifth track “Washed My Sins”. (You may remember that a video was posted for that song last year featuring a mix of stock footage from different eras.) This, however, strikes a nice balance between the ethereal vocal stylings and the more earthy guitar solos and percussion. That rocky edge and progressive pace, though not the focal point of the song, do set it apart and make it quite successful.
Beyond these favorites of mine, it’s hard to find something to dislike about this album. From the Middle Eastern influence of “U Got The Sunshine” to the minimalist R&B ballad “Separate Lives” and a return to pop on the spacey “Resting Place” and seasonally sad “No Snow”, Danvers and Scott run the gamut when it comes to the musical spectrum and displaying the many influences on their sonic nature. Oh, and let’s not forget the ridiculous and amazing bonus track “Vocoda Orange”, in which Scott channels Adam Levine through that vocoder of his. It may have a proper slot as an extra cut rather than in the main tracklisting, but it’s undeniably fun, and perhaps it’ll do your head in trying to figure out what he’s actually singing. (I think you’ll eventually get it!)
Verdict: the wait was definitely worth it. Label politics aside, The Bridge is absolutely one of the best albums of 2014, but as an independent release, it will ultimately fly under the radar without the enormous notice that it really deserves. I may fan boy for these two and Scott’s budding career as a songwriter for other acts I enjoy, but the talent they possess and the tracks they produce can do no wrong in my eyes (and ears too.) I’ll forever be frustrated with Capitol from dropping the ball on it, but I can’t be too angry now that it’s out, right? It’s a real gem. The Colours may have melted together the last time around, but the hues of their latest hits are as simple as black and white.
(Purchase The Bridge on iTunes)