The Black Doorway (E.P)
Lo-Fi Northern Irish Romantic Melancholia For Lovers Everywhere.
When Stevie Scullion aka Malojian first told me about this release on his Style Records label I presumed that it would be Christopher Coll‘s debut ….. but on closer examination he’s recorded 30+ previous albums, is an illustrator, and video animator too.
I like to keep myself busy …. but really?
This quite remarkable EP of 7 self-penned songs is only going to be available as 100 copy Limited Edition vinyl and on Bandcamp too; which I totally support; as none of the International streaming platforms work in favour of the Independent Artiste. Harrumph!
The wistful opening song, A Vision errs on the Lo-Fi end of Folk, with the engineering picking out some lovely guitar picking and lap-steel (from Graham Bingham); helping make Coll‘s soft, yet still expressive voice sound like a warm autumnal breeze, to these ears.
To all intents and purposes these songs were all recorded as ‘live’ in one take at Malojianland Studios; and that exciting frisson certainly comes across when you hear the title track The Black Doorway, where Coll, occasionally accompanied by Laura McFadden on cello, drops his voice a couple of octaves to tell a gloriously doom laden tale; and on the finale An Apology too, where I hear elements of both John Prine and Kurt Cobain (Unplugged) in both delivery and the way the stories both unfold.
Although always ‘gentle’ in that Lo-Fi manner; Coll still manages to shift the mood at will; especially noticeable on the dark and melancholic Into The Ocean; with its haunting harmonica interlude makes it sound almost Gothic in words and deeds.
With only 7 songs here; and none longer than 5 minutes long the EP is over in the blink of an eye; but even the first time I played it I realised that Christopher Coll was a rare talent indeed; which brings me to the two songs I’m torn between as a Favourite.
For Avery really does hark back to the singer-songwriters that I listened to after sneaking into my elder brother’s bedrooms in the mid 1970’s and ‘borrowing’ for my own enlightenment. It’s as timeless as can be and stands shoulder to shoulder with anything Malojian or his other Northern Irish peers have released in recent years.
But; and I can’t even describe why, but I’m selecting the heartbreaking Her & I; which I’m sure can be interpreted in many ways by every person who hears it. It’s miserable and gloomy; but therein lies it’s tragic beauty.
Best played late at night when you’re scraping around for that bottle of brandy that your Mam brought back from Greece three years ago ……. sometimes misery is your only friend.
All tracks written and performed by Christopher Coll.
These tracks were recorded live at Malojianland on the 29th of November 2019 with additional arrangements added later.
Cello arrangements on “The Black Doorway” written and performed by Laura McFadden.
Lap steel guitar on “A Vision” written and performed by Graham Bingham.
Wicker chair photo by Uel Coburn.
Photography and illustrations by hauntedboystuff.
Produced by Malojian.
© 2020 Style Records.