CD review: Songs & Pictures by Beccy Cole

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Beccy Cole is, not unlike her close friend Kasey Chambers, one of our most consistent singer-songwriters, although I wouldn’t mind betting that a lot of people don’t realise she writes most of her own songs, mainly because she’s seen as a ‘performer’. Indeed, Beccy is one of our great entertainers – she consistently puts on high-quality shows that combine humour, storytelling and musical performance in a way that ensures everyone leaves smiling. She is also a songwriter of considerable accomplishment, and has been for a while – her early song ‘Lazy Bones’ is a textbook case in how to turn a phrase in a clever, funny way.

Songs & Pictures is Beccy’s latest CD and again features her own compositions, some of them written in collaboration with Kasey Chambers, Travis Collins, Luke Austen and others. It is a nostalgic, almost wistful album – there is very little of the brassiness that could be found on Feel This Free or even Little Victories. It is a ‘pretty’ album in many ways – Beccy has always produced melodically pleasing songs, but there seem to be more of them on this album. And perhaps more songs in minor keys. They are songs of reflection and contemplation, of appreciation for what she has and who she loves. It is the most personal of her albums, and the first that I can recall where there isn’t what one could call a ‘joke song’ (for lack of a better word) like ‘The Girls Out Here’ or ‘Sorry I Asked’. This is probably for the best: the joke songs may have previously obscured the fact that she is a really, really good singer, and on this new album her voice is front and centre.
It’s a strong album – the songs are solidly constructed and Beccy’s remarkable voice is in charge of them all. ‘Millionaires’ also features Kasey on vocals and it is clearly about the friendship they have have since they were teenagers – it’s a lovely song. Although I love Beccy’s joke songs, I do think this is the most consistent of her albums in terms of having an overall message and the songs all feeding into each other to create a complete portrait. It is also the album most likely to appeal to people who don’t usually like country music – so buy it for your non-country friends.

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