CD review: “Different Light”

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CD review

“Different Light”

Brian David Collins

Elton John may retire after his current tour, but don’t fret. We have our musician channeling a bit of Elton John (minus the flamboyant costumes) by way of Randy Newman and Leon Russell — in the best possible way. Brian David Collins has Elton’s ivory-tickling bombast, Randy’s casual songwriting and vocal delivery, and Leon’s musical chops.

Northern Colorado audiences know Collins best as the blind half of The Seers, a beloved mainstay on the local music scene. He is also a prolific solo songwriter, crafting more piano-focused but equally upbeat adult contemporary tunes.

The pervasive optimism on this second solo release may surprise, given the fact that his stepson was killed last year, but he has said he needed to play hopeful songs for catharsis. The songs are also messages of hope for anyone who needs them (and who doesn’t need a little faith and uplift these days?).

The first track, “Trouble Within,” opens with a gentle piano phrase that gives way to a romp with skillful drumming from Tom Ditzler. The song would fit nicely on a 1980s Randy Newman record (when he was more focused on songs for adults than torch ballads for toys), and the lyrics are a perfect ode to the outdoor northern Colorado lifestyle.

“When I see that trouble again, all I do is remember to when we were outside, every time feels so inspired, the air feeling fine,” he sings with abandon and joy.

Collins and Ditzler recorded all 12 songs in just two days in a Littleton studio. It gives the album a loose and laid-back feeling while showcasing a pair of talented musicians.

Collins comfortably labels the music as “easy listening,” and there’s nothing edgy or avant-garde here, but I will not argue with some catchy uplift that’s easy on the ears.

— Steve Graham

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