Written by James Killen
Oct 19, 2013 at 02:00 AM
ImageWendy Colonna is a young singer/songwriter and Lake Charles, Louisiana native that chose to import her smoky blues/jazz/folk vocal style to Austin and has been very successful in doing so. She’s not only a talented song writer and a gifted vocalist, but she is one of the sweetest and most genuine people that I’ve met.

She just released a new disc called “Nectar”, in collaboration with Mark Addison who produced and played on the disc as well as either writing or co-writing with Wendy almost half the songs. I could do no better than to copy use her words from her website to describe the collaboration:

“Mark Addison and I had a running joke that when I was ready, we would make my “dark” record together.  I had a few songs waiting in the wings that were more melancholy than the upbeat stuff on Right Where I Belong and We Are One and they needed a place. . . So I blocked off entire days to write throughout the month of January and brought them to him in batches. We sorted through them, found ones we loved, discarded others, he shared pieces of songs he was working on and he helped me with bridges and edits on some of my pieces. I had always been sort-of afraid to co-write songs, but with Mark it was easy and fun.  We wanted to make sure they were all songs I could tour solo or with a full band when we recorded them and to make sure every instrument on board supported the song.”

The disc starts off with one of the soulful tunes of innocent sin that seems to flow so easily from Wendy’s pen called “Dirty Things”. She follows that with a beautiful country crooning, “Bring Me Water”. “Shelter and Be Kind” slides a jazzy rhythm right out of the Louisiana back country with nice wa-wa guitar and piano solos in series.

“The Water’s Fine” is a pop vocal with ukulele tune that seems to come from “someplace over the rainbow” accompanied by a very cool pedal steel solo. There is a gentle, charming reggae rhythm carrying Mark Addison’s dream song, “Sleeping” with a heart-felt acoustic guitar solo and Wendy’s steady voice playing through. Guy Forsyth contributed a bit of his saw playing along with  Addison’s banjo to the slow jazz, “Dance with the Moon”, that could have come straight from a 1920’s speak easy.

Mark Addison’s other solo composition, “Girl without a Name”, seems to have been written with Wendy’s voice in mind and features Bukka Allen’s accordion work and an electric guitar solo to carry the song beyond the horizon. “When Love Comes my Way” is a night club jazz number with a swirling keyboards solo, sure to draw couples to the dance floor. “Texas Summer Love” is that special combination of country and blues that seems to happen in Texas so often featuring harmonica and pedal steel parts and lines like “sometimes you just grow bitter reaching higher for something sweet. “

Wendy stands stoically independent on the rocking “I’ve Never Been”, a song that begs to be heard acoustic and electric, back to back, for an anticipated contrast. Ms. Colonna ends the disc with an ethereal “Mother Forgive Us”, a song that deals with that theme of innocent (or maybe not so innocent) sin featuring a sad European string and tympani background.

“Nectar” is a beautiful composition and I look forward to seeing Wendy take these songs in all directions. I see the potential for captivating audiences in the solo performance as well as with a full band. It’s a collection of songs that has several lives to live and certainly worth a quiet evening of listening.