Today we’re introducing a ‘new’ group that we’ve already featured on the blog back in November 2011. Then they were named The Jess Hall Band, for the obvious reasons that the lead singer and general leader was (and still is) called Jess Hall. Obvious really. But now one year on they’re called Colour The Atlas, which is arguably a better and more interesting name, certainly suggesting global ambitions, or a childlike love of felt tips, Crayola and geography lessons. Yet fear not because Jess Hall is still in the centre, singing beautifully, like a subtly soulful version of Breaking More Waves mainstay (and now hit single artist) Gabrielle Aplin, but there’s also some male accompaniment in places, particularly on the bizarrely over auto-tuned song The Maker (listen here). We say bizarrely because certainly neither voice needs auto-tuning to get it singing anything more than spot on – it seems to have been used in the same way that Bon Iver uses it on a song like Woods – as some sort of artistic of-the-moment ideal or concept.
When we first wrote about The Jess Hall Band they had just released their debut (now sole) EP which contained a pop sensibility with a radio friendly acoustic deftness. At the time we expected a whole bunch of bloggers who weren’t concerned with being fashionably cool or underground to jump on board with the Jess Hall Band. If we were a record label we’d have probably signed them up immediately. Sure they weren’t being particularly innovative but songs like Play Shy were melodic, hooky and full of breezy acoustic pop delights. Alas the blog world was probably too busy posting Lana Del Rey mixes and the only Hype Machine listed entry for The Jess Hall Band refers back to this blog.
So now let’s look forward. With a name change in place and a new EP released to the world, our opinion of
The Jess Hall Band Colour the Atlas hasn’t changed. They have the ability to pen a really well crafted, well sung and well played song. Yes, Colour the Atlas possess talent, a word that the X-Factor, with its two minute cover versions has managed to turn into a dirty word; but in this case this talent shouldn’t be mocked, it should be celebrated. The EP also shows a progression for the band with some electronic beats, subtle strings and rich quality that suggests they are maturing in all the right ways. If we were a record label, we'd still sign them up. Oh hold on, it seems that since last November that's exactly what has happened. Check out the clicking and rubbery beats of Snow below which sounds vaguely like something from the first Ellie Goulding record with a bigger horizon and see what we mean.
Colour The Atlas - Snow