Blues and Hard Rock Create an Original Sound
It can’t be denied that Living Colour’s newest album Shade is filled with some incredible instrumental talent and sound. The blues-y meets psychedelic hard rock feel of the album creates a unique piece of art. This is Living Colour’s sixth album and first release in nearly 10 years, and its unique sound hails true to the group’s early roots.
Shade begins with the rocking “Freedom of Expression (F.O.X).” The lyrics are just as powerful as the music, “you got to do what you want / you got to say what you feel / you got to be who you are / no apologies.” For a band that defined the genre 30 years ago, these lyrics ring incredibly true. They may be hard rock, but the blues and funk influence that Living Colour brought to the genre created something unique and apologetic, much like the message of “Freedom of Expression (F.O.X.).”
An early knockout and the single off of the album is “Come On.” Fueled by an incredible drumbeat, “Come On” is a great song with a sound like no other. The repetition of the main verse and name of the song is what makes it so memorable. It feels like a power anthem, but one that is artistically done, that can appeal to anyone within or outside of the genre. It’s no wonder that Living Colour chose it as their single, as it showcases what makes Shade great while still remaining accessible. Another enthusiastic song off of the album is “Pattern in Time.” A song more traditional to the hard rock genre, “Pattern in Time” features some incredible vocals from lead vocalist Corey Glover, including a scream at one point that will stick with the listener long after they’re done listening to the song. This song carries some great rhythm, feeling like a race through time, much as the “Pattern in Time” name suggests.
Despite being an excellent album, there are some songs that are lackluster, much like any album. “Who’s That,” despite the incredibly impressive saxophone playing, falls flat. It feels much like a clone of “Come On,” just minus the accessibility that makes “Come On” such a hit. The next song on the album, “Glass Teeth” falls a bit flat too. Beyond the interesting lyrics, the very traditional sound of the song stands out against the more bluesy feel the rest of the album has, which isn’t exactly a bad thing, but it feels a bit safe. Despite such critiques, however, these songs don’t in anyway change the beauty that is the album as a whole.
What makes Shade as an album an even more interesting venture is the amount of time took to make it. In 2012, guitarist Vernon Reid told Rolling Stone that Living Colour would be releasing an album in 2013. Four years later, Shade came about, and it definitely reflects the amount of time and effort that went into making this album.
Living Colour is currently on tour and will be touring across the UK in the next couple of months.