Published Jun 10, 2014It's quite the busy year for Vancouver singer/actor Colleen Rennison. The hard-hitting bluesy rock band she fronts, No Sinner, are making waves in Europe and the U.S., just as she delivers this rootsy solo debut. Here, she tones down the Joplinesque fervour in favour of subtler vocal shadings. It's an album of covers, and her choices (perhaps in tandem with producer Steve Dawson?) are nearly impeccable. The Canadian icons are here (Neil, Leonard, Robbie, Joni), alongside top-drawer American songsmiths like Townes Van Zandt, Tom Ghent, Tom Russell and Booker T. Jones.
Rennison really sinks her teeth into Sarah Harmer's "Oleander," while Bobby Gentry's "Fancy" is a fine fit for her sultry smokiness. It's a delight to hear Blue Shadows gem "A Fool Is The Last One To Know" given bright new life, too. Dawson contributes his signature crisp production and fluent playing on a wide range of guitars, aided by some top BC players. A horn section and vocal group the McCrary Sisters add depth on some tunes, while bluegrass ace Tim O'Brien plays fiddle and mandolin on Van Zandt's "White Freightliner," supplementing the convincing honkytonk hurt in the vocal. Not everything works, with her take on "Stage Fright" sounding a mite rushed and perfunctory, but overall, this is one attractive calling card from a young talent to be watched. (Black Hen Music)