Review Summary: One of the many unknown treasures hidden behind indie music's mask of obscurity.
Atmospheric, stripped-down music isn’t an uncommon thing in the indie genre. With artists like Elliot Smith and Bright Eyes leading the way, it has become increasingly easy for lesser-known bands to fly below the radar in a field of music that is already largely overshadowed. While it can be disappointing to think about how much talented indie music goes without proper recognition, most of these artists wouldn’t have it any other way. There is something of a sense of pride in the indie genre where all artists tend to hold their own music/identity above luxuries such as wealth, fame, and glory. In other words, they create music for the sake of creating music
. In all of these respects, The Colorful Quiet fits the true definition of indie.
For all intents and purposes, The Colorful Quiet is not a band
. It is composed by one musician, Stephen Webster, who “does it all” as far as song writing and lyricism are concerned. For how unknown he seems to be (his myspace has less views than some of my friends from high school), he has certainly produced a worthy catalogue to date. Having written 5 albums thus far, including early demos from his years as a student, Webster and his self-formed band The Colorful Quiet have slowly started to reach the eager ears of listeners seeking the next Elliot Smith. While it is easy to draw comparisons between the two, there are plenty of distinctions to make both in the difference of talent level (Elliot Smith is in a league of his own) and stylistically. The Colorful Quiet is not going to take the spotlight away from any of indie music’s premier icons, but Stephen Webster manages to do quite well in his tiny niche; simply producing quality and heartfelt tunes with nothing to pollute the integrity of his music. And, like most indie artists, it seems like he wouldn’t have it any other way.
is among the first installments by the Colorful Quiet, considering that the previous two releases are labeled as high school/college demos and the albums that follow it are more cohesive, polished works. One of the most noticeable traits of this album is its generally depressing, downtrodden tone that radiates from each song with a trace of angst and somber expression. Songs like “You Could Love Me” and “Goodbye” exemplify this trait, with lines such as let the future be fast, as it comes to wash away all the words we’ll never say
. The mood created by these lyrics is aided by the sentimentality of Webster’s vocals and the simplicity of the instrumentation involved in each song. In fact, the entire album is composed solely of Webster and his acoustic guitar, something that is not entirely unique (especially within the indie genre) but still gives Numb Feeling
a tortured soul, heart-on-your-sleeve type of feel. This overall trend in tone is expressed continually throughout the album, particularly on tracks like “Don’t Come Back”, “I Should Be Dying”, and “Not the One.” Once again, these songs roll on the strength of Webster’s honest lyrics, and the simple fact that you can feel his pain with every string played on the guitar. The stripped down, unrefined sound of Webster’s music serves to benefit the gloomy mood that Numb Feeling
The album is not all doom-and-gloom, however, as certain moments offer a brief break in the gray clouds that make up Numb Feeling
. “Where Do We Go” utilizes higher chords and melodic interjections by Webster to give the song a hopeful aura, at least by comparison to the other tracks. “One Day” offers a similar template, with a greater inclusion of vocal harmony (combined with slightly more optimistic lyrics) to offer a silver lining to the otherwise overwhelmingly dejected tone of the album. It is important to note, however, that the album is still very accessible. Each song on Numb Feeling
is easily listenable and relaxing, albeit pessimistic. The acoustic setting, combined with the down-tempo song structures and sensitive lyrics, make for a very soothing listen that also works quite well as a band-defining sound. At only a few albums and EP’s into Stephen Webster’s career, Numb Feeling
shows The Colorful Quiet finding its identity with confidence and consistency.
As a whole, Numb Feeling
is a rewarding experience in indie-folk. Listening to the record won’t let you hear everything that The Colorful Quiet has to offer, but it certainly gives an insight to the roots of Stephen Webster’s songwriting style. The sound he establishes on this album ends up becoming a key component of later albums, including The Colorful Quiet’s most successful to date, The Sun Is Melting
. As is stands, Numb Feeling
is one of the many unknown treasures hidden behind the mask of obscurity covering the face of indie music. It isn’t groundbreaking, or even tremendously unique…but The Colorful Quiet has created a moody album that is unified through the consistency of its stripped-down music and the emotional delivery of its lyrics.