Review – “Colour Film” – Matthew de Zoete

reviewed by Erin Red

Colour Film is the first offering from small-town-Ontario’s Matthew de Zoete, and a tightly knit one at that. From the opening chords of “The Good Life” to the trailing off of “Hunter’s Moon,” this melodic album is nothing if not a cohesive package, shimmering with dew drying on fields of hay, and breezes in the trees.

The album was recorded over just ten days, but speed is definitely not something one could ever associate with de Zoete’s sound. A mix between Simon and Garfunkel and the gentler side of Fountains of Wayne (particularly “Hackensack”…) the album was inspired by seeing old movies of his grandparents.

De Zoete saw the songs as a collection akin to the soundtrack for a short film (something that goes a long way to explaining my Simon and Garfunkel association…!). In this regard it is certainly successful- listening to “We’re Dying”, it feels like you are seated in a small old theatre on a Sunday afternoon, watching a melencholea independent film with your eyes closed. “Going Nowhere” would be the part where our anti-hero stares out the window on a long bus journey that takes him from some grey and lonely city back to his small hometown, to attend a funeral or a high school reunion. “Lost at Dawn” perfectly fills the introduction portion,  while “Who Do You Think You Are?,” picks up the pace, the soundtrack to the lead character’s path-changing fight with the love interest or the long-forgotten best friend. I know I’m making it sound somewhat depressing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a beautiful and calm feeling to the writing, both musically and lyrically, that makes you feel quietly contemplative and in need of a road trip of the “self-discovery” variety.

Throughout the album you can practically see the rolling countryside, full of farms, gently cross your path…Perhaps this feeling comes from de Zoete’s own travels- A consummate touring performer (who has traveled across Canada eleven times, the US five times, and Europe four times…) it’s easy to believe much of his life is spent in this self-same pose of watching the world through the window of a bus. In fact it’s almost difficult to believe he exists outside of a traveling context.

On “Going Nowhere,” he sings of “another town tonight, a bar with neon lights, all the locals sit there lookin for a fight… and no one notices you’re there.” Perhaps my melancholy traveler assessment isn’t too far off. And if that was the effect he was going for, then he has hit the nail right on the head. At any rate de Zoete says he considers feedback to be a vital part of the creative process… Seems to be working for him!

Colour Film is available for streaming on Bandcamp.

Top tracks: “We’re Dying”

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

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