You ever wake up and go to your job and then come home and sit down and think “why the hell do I do this?” Yeah, me too. But then I think a boys gotta eat and a boys gotta have a roof etc. Art don’t pay the bills now does it. There’s sometimes a price to be paid for art. Some get by, like Picasso, and others like Van Gogh and Modigliani, well they had to die to get famous. As far as musicians are concerned they have their share too. Nick Drake comes to mind as someone who left behind a legacy longer than five leaves.
I’m fascinated by a lot of things but something that I really get into is people who work in multiple artistic mediums. On some level I’m like come on man just pick one and stick to it. That’s probably just jealousy. I can’t sing or play guitar and I couldn’t draw a decent stick figure with a gun to my head. So anyways I was very fascinated by the multi-genre artist Steve Coffey who paints as well as writes songs and records albums. He has ten to date. His latest is Paint Songs.
The record features guest players from Coffey’s longtime band The Lokels but this is the first record which he has recorded under his own name. The inspiration for the songs on Paint Songs are derived from his rural Alberta Canada homeland as well as his travels to Europe. And likely also his paintings.
Paint Songs opens with “In Paint” a wistful alt-country folk tune that has the leanings of an Irish folk song. We are then hit with the slow and intimate “Growing” on which Coffey laments tragically and truthfully “Time waits for no one.” This movement of time pervades the album as a whole even as the record picks up pace on the raucous Irish style drinking tune with a gyspsey flair on “Dust in the Bowl.” Things mellow out again on the folksy “Old Town Square” which has a calming and melancholy air to it.
But just when you think that Coffey is a two trick pony he brings in the tickling and fun melody of “Ghost Farmers Dancing” a raggedy lo-fi romp that takes the record even further than previously thought. Then later he gives us the open air and poetic feeling of “Seeing Reflection,” a welcomed record scratch to what has come before, something which he also does in a fun and different way on “Colours.”
Paint Songs is not a hit record. It’s obtuse and colourful and hard at times to decipher. It asks a lot of its listener. It demands attention, just like any work of art does. It is a record for those who have enough patience and enough know how to realize that after a bit of poring over, the lines will eventually become clear, and the image will manifest, and it will be worth the wait in the end.
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