Written by James Killen
I got the chance to see Teresa Kolo perform at a song swap at the Americana the other night and got her last CD. It’s from early 2016, but her voice was so innovative and the material on the disc so intriguing, I felt the need to share it.
Teresa’s vocal stylings move freely between octaves from deep at the back of her throat to the tip of her tongue giving the effect of a ship tossed by the waves. She uses a lyrical timing similar to Bob Dylan’s, with slight pauses in the middle of a line to emphasize certain words. The songs on “Brave Girl” are introspective and revealing for a person navigating time between relationships. The record includes contributions from several excellent musicians, including Eric Korb on guitars and Mike Stinson on drums. Still a few of the tracks are just Teresa and a guitar.
The first track, “Crazy Girl Whisperer”, tells of a girl coming out of a failed relationship and meeting a boy that talks her through all of her mixed emotions and hurt and features a simple but haunting guitar lead. “Say About Me” is a declaration of independence for a woman full of passion. “Brave Girl” asserts a woman’s ability to face any adversity and features another very nice guitar lead.
Eric Korb kicks off “Anura Queen” with a simple electric guitar line on the song about a man finding the courage to admit that he had been left with a broken heart. Teresa goes solo with her guitar on “Weak Knees” about a woman speaking of that special man that stole her heart. “Fall” is an eerie air about pondering the opportunity to open herself up to another relationship after being hurt in the last and features a haunting viola line.
“No Babies” is about how a man’s unconditional love supports a woman unable to have children. “Aral Sea” is an ode to the way that man can affect the environment by diverting all of the rivers that historically fed the Aral Sea in central Asia, reducing the great salt lake to 10% of the size that it was in the 1960’s. Water being the universal symbol of life, this song invites a multitude of metaphors. “Goo” is a two minute song about the ups and downs of a woman’s attitude toward her relationship and is backed by a “circus-like” organ part.
Joe Omelchuck’s Hammond B3 provides the base for “Hill for a Climber” about how determination can break down the walls and open up closed minds. “The End” describes the events at the end of a relationship with a mournful viola line.
Teresa adds three bonus tracks recorded and mixed in Seattle (the first part of the disc was done in Houston). The first of them is “What She Needs”, where Ms. Kolo is accompanied by Tiffany Passsaro’s cello, about a futile search for oneself in a relationship. Passaro’s cello continues to support Teresa’s guitar and voice on “Reined the Horse” about the need for trust at the end of a relationship for all of those personal secrets shared during it. “Smelled Right” is Teresa alone with her guitar again, in a song about a dysfunctional relationship with an egotist.
I’m actually very impressed with Teresa Kolo’s unique approach to music. She is creative and original. “Brave Girl” is a thematic production that begins in one place and moves methodically forward through a story of love and heartache. This is good stuff, packaged properly and delivered effectively. I would highly recommend delving into this one.