Colleen Rennison has been acting since she was a child, appearing in various movies and television series since the mid ’90s in the U.S. and Canada. More recently, she’s served as lead singer for the Canadian band, No Sinner, noted for their frenetic live performances, and Rennison’s raw, raucous vocals. However, her debut solo recording, See The Sky About To Rain (Black Hen Music), is a definite change of pace from her previous musical forays, with the talented singer threading her way through a wide range of musical styles.
Rennison has an amazing voice that is as comfortable doing Stax-based soul (Robbie Robertson’s “All La Glory,” replete with Wurlitzer and three-piece horn section), bluegrass (Townes Van Zandt’s “White Freightliner”), and country (“Whiskey, Whiskey,” and Bobbie Gentry’s “Fancy,” channeling Patsy Cline on the Leonard Cohen tune, “Why Don’t You Try”). She’s an ideal mix of tough and tender on these tracks, doing a standout job on Tom Russell’s “Blue Wing,” and “Stage Fright,” another Robertson cover, and a daring re-do of Joni Mitchell’s “Coyote.”
Not that Rennison needs a lot of help with the set of pipes she’s packing, but several tracks also feature the lovely backing vocals of the McCrary sisters (you wonder if they ever sleep these days), and Steve Dawson serves as producer and plays…..let’s see…..electric and acoustic guitars, baritone guitar, National Steel, dobro, electric slide guitar, pump organ, banjo, pedal steel, mellotron, weissenborn, and mandotar throughout the disc. As on his own release, using vintage recording equipment gives the disc a warm and comfortable feel and is the perfect background for those wonderful vocals.
See The Sky About To Rain was part of an ambitious week-long session by Dawson that will eventually yield five different albums for five different artists, and also features the musical talents of Darryl Havers (keys), Geoff Hicks (drums), and Jeremy Holmes (bass). If you were, like me, pretty impressed with Colleen Rennison’s contributions to No Sinner, prepare to be blown away by her performance on this outstanding solo effort.