The Appearance of Colour is a stunning album by musical artist, John Metcalfe, and The John Metcalfe Band, released in 2016. The nine songs on it take listeners on aural trips, entrancing them with trippy rhythmic drumming and bass guitar playing, sparse, yet very effective and haunting, vocals, amazing piano playing, and Metcalfe’s mastery of the viola. Metcalfe and his band combine chamber music with other genres, like Prog, electronica, and rock.

Each song on The Appearance of Colour tells its own story, though all of the songs are inexorably linked with their relationship to various colours and remembrances. Metcalfe, who has collaborated with and gone on tour with bands like Simple Minds, The Pretenders, Cold Play and Peter Gabriel, has been touring in support of the album. Metcalfe has released three previous studio albums. During his tour, Metcalfe has performed with the impressive and talented musical artist, Rosie Doonan, whose EP, Wrapped, along with her backup singing for Peter Gabriel, has helped bring her the attention she richly deserves for her singing.

The members of The John Metcalfe Band include bassist Ali Friend, from Red Snapper; drummer, Andy Gangadeen, who has played with the bands The Bays, Chase ‘n’ Status; pianist Tom Cawley, who has performed with Peter Gabriel and Curios; and singer, Natasha Khan, of Bat for Lashes fame.

One lucky reader of this review who leaves a comment below, along with his/her name and the country, state, city, and/or province that he/she lives in, will get mailed a copy of The Appearance of Colour, personally autographed by John Metcalfe! Read on — the rest of the few, simple, rules follow, after my review of Metcalfe’s album! If you would like to just go ahead and purchase The Appearance of Colour, one of the many places you can buy it is at Amazon, or Amazon UK! This giveaway is open to readers of What’s New in Book Reviews worldwide, courtesy of John Metcalfe and Real World Records.

John Metcalfe

The first track on The Appearance of Colour is “Sun,” clocking in at 20 minutes and 30 seconds. It is, by far, the longest song on the album, though it does not really seem that long as one listens to it, because it is very ethereal and atmospheric. John Metcalfe provides the few lyrics sang during the track, which is one of the many highlights on the album, and he plays most of the instruments, as he does throughout all of the tracks on the album. Metcalfe added the “music” of birds late in the song, ones he said in an interview were likely primarily blackbirds.

“The Silver Track” is the second song on The Appearance of Colour.  It is a relatively short instrumental track, one which Metcalfe has said was inspired by the constantly changing perspectives one has while looking out the window of a train. Metcalfe begins the song with playing or creating a sound that is somewhat like the chiming of a bell. The bass line in “The Silver Track” adds to the tension and aids in transporting the listener on his or her own musical journey of the senses.

On Just Let Go, the album’s third track, Natasha Khan’s spellbinding and soaring vocals aid in creating another song that is a highlight on The Appearance of Colour. The song’s simple but powerful message is to allow ourselves the freedom of sometimes letting go, and experiencing life as it happens. The song can be interpreted different ways, but that is my take on Just Let Go‘s message. You can listen to it, below!

The fourth song on The Appearance of Colour is “Kite,” inspired by the sheer joy of flying a kite, both as a child and as an adult, being with one’s own children, and teaching them to fly a kite. The joy of being with your child or children and seeing their eyes light up with wonder as they manage to get a kite up into the air and flying, blown about by the wind, is one of life’s fleeting but happy moments.

“Gold, Green” is the fifth song on The Appearance of Colour, and makes a direct reference to colors in its very title. The title and song were inspired, according to Metclafe, by the interplay of sunlight and colors through the leaves and branches of a copper beech tree. In the video of the song below, taken from YouTube, Metcalfe demonstrates his skills on the electric guitar. It is an ethereal track, and one of my favorites from the entire album.

The title of the sixth song on The Appearance of Colour, “Parsal,” refers to a beach in Wales. It is extremely difficult to try capturing memories and experiences in one’s life in a song, but this instrumental track makes a heroic stab at doing just that. Metcalfe is again back on the viola, and the piano is one of the track’s other featured instruments.

The seventh and eighth songs on The Appearance of Colour are “Sycamore” and “Besancon.” They are two other highlights on the album, with the first of the two, “Sycamore,” inspired, in part, by — what else — sycamore trees, and the flight of their seeds as they fall from the trees to the ground. It, like “Besancon,” is another atmospheric, dream-like track that is great to listen to whether one is driving to work, or at home, listening on his/her headphones.

“Besancon,” the eighth track on The Appearance of Colour, gets its name from the French town of the same name. Metcalfe has revealed in the past that it was inspired while watching snow falling outside of his hotel room, while staying overnight in the town.

The ninth and last song on The Appearance of Colour is the title track. It is a sweeping and epic-sounding instrumental track, tying the entire album together. Metcalfe makes his viola sing in this terrific song, and the piano playing is also at the forefront. It’s a satisfying and stellar conclusion to the album, and makes the listener want to go back to the first track, “Sun,” and listen to it all over again, from the very beginning.

Words, alone, cannot adequately express what it is like to listen to The Appearance of Colour, or any album — so, listen to the few songs below from it, and, as a bonus, to Rosie Doonan singing “Wrapped,” and perhaps consider buying the CD. Alternatively, I urge you to enter the contest I’m running, and take a shot at WINNING an autographed copy of it, for the low, low cost of absolutely FREE!

To win a copy of your very own, leave a comment, mentioning the state, city, country, and province you live in, if you live in a province. Include your name, and you must be over the over of 18. The contest will run from Thursday, September 7, 2017, for two weeks plus a day, until Friday, September 22, at midnight. Then, a winner will randomly be chosen. The winner has five days to reply, and provide his/her complete address, so I can forward it to John Metcalfe, who will mail out the autographed copy of The Appearance of Colour. Only one entry per person is allowed — If the winner does not reply within the five day period, a new winner will be chosen. Good luck!

By: Douglas R. Cobb


Just Let Go


Wrapped (Rosie Doonan)