Colleen Rennison is a native Canadian singer-actress with roles in several Canadian features, and U. S. releases such as “Boot Camp” and “What Goes Up,” to name just a few. We are also familiar with her work as the lead singer of the Vancouver-based blues-rock band, No Sinner, a clever play on words that is Rennison spelled backwards. She has one of those sultry, soulful voices that lend itself well to her excellent choice of material for her debut for Black Hen Records, “See The Sky About To Rain.” On this set, she takes a bit of a break from the raucous offerings of No Sinner and focuses on songs and songwriters that she has admired since childhood, allowing her voice to take center stage.
Steve Dawson serves as producer, and his incredible string wizardry is prevalent throughout the set. Also joining in are some of Canada’s finest players, including Darryl Havers on keys, Geoff Hicks on drums, and Jeremy Holmes on bass.
On this set, Colleen creates a multi-genre affair. There are traditional-sounding folk songs such as “Oleander,” featuring the McCrary Sisters on backing vocals, and Steve’s tremolo guitar. Brush-stroked drums and Colleen’s quirky, partially-spoken-word vocal define the Bohemian vibe of Joni Mitchell’s “Coyote,” while Tim O’Brien adds fiddle and mandolin over Colleen’s ramblin’ vocal on the country-blues of Townes Van Zandt’s “White Freightliner.” And, nowhere on the whole album does her voice convey more passion than on the somber, tragic tale of self-destruction that is Tim Russell’s “Blue Wing.”
These are highlights, indeed, but we had two favorites that show more of Colleen’s versatility. She turns in a soulful read of Bobbie Gentry’s tale of a young woman’s simultaneous coming-of-age and escape from a poverty-stricken background, the immortal “Fancy.” And, a song that would be right at home at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is a straight-up country cheatin’ song, where Colleen laments that “The Fool s The Last One To Know,” with Steve on the cryin’ pedal steel and Darryl wailin’ the fire outta that sixth chord on the piano.
Colleen Rennison is an amazingly-multi-talented young woman. With “See The Sky About To Rain.’ she has taken songs that have a special meaning to her and wrapped her lilting, passionate voice around them for us all to enjoy! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.