From San Diego, The Color Forty Nine has released a debut self-titled record that comes with seven songs cut from the Americana cloth but also falls into its alternative rock listing with more of a folk-rock and even a singer/songwriter approach to round out their categorization factors. But make no mistake this is a band with true storytelling ability, even with a healthy amount of fictionally based material that was written around experiences around the U.S.A. and Mexican border.
Phil Beaumont is a unique vocalist with equally fascinating stories to tell with a voice like that of not many others to be found these days. It’s very deep and the lyrics very poignant at times, with a classic yet somehow modern finish. “I Will” opens the EP with enough to prove that ten times over, so there is no time wasted whatsoever in establishing the identity of their sound which stays the course on just about every song, playing out together with just the right amount of variety but not too much to get away from the overall storytelling styles of these well written, produced and arranged tunes.
The energy shifts a few times on the album with “Fall Down With You” getting the first chance to show it, and it plays well in contrast to songs before and after it. This stands out brighter to me than the opener and the following “Hours Made” but it reduces nothing on the latter in the process. It’s just to point out some variation in the vocal ambience. These songs are all top notch any way you slice them, but without repeating lyrics here it’s hard to describe how they tend to vary while sounding very much alike on at least five of the seven included. That’s because it’s storytelling music for the most part.
“No Guarantees” has its proper place in the track list, as it stands alone in its own little way. The title isn’t hard to understand, so it really takes no explaining when it comes down to it, other than it’s another excellent tune with a first-rate vocal effort, it’s one of the album’s most enjoyable moments though. This is all done very well as it leads up to “Storyteller” which makes the entire album what it is. This is one of the three best songs by The Color Forty Nine, so it is not to be missed when giving the full EP a listen because this is where most of the band’s talents stack up in one track, and it carries a softer vocal style as well.
“Did You Think Of This All By Yourself” is another highlight for those who like the voicings of Beaumont as he displays more variety than meets the ear, but it’s definitely for the more serious listener to enjoy and rating it by that margin its where things get the most interesting on all counts. If anything, this song contains the best lyrics on offer, and that’s another compliment. And the closing song “Side Of The Road” works up its own magic to leave you right where it takes you, and it comes recommended for each and every track it contains.
-review by Jeff Turner