The Sweet Coleens’ album ’10 Mona Lisas’ has been sitting on my desk for well over a year now. I honestly don’t know why I haven’t reviewed it other than it has just never spoken to me before but tonight, it spoke and I’m listening. I’m not sure why it’s hitting me tonight but something about the cover portraying Mona Lisa playing the violin while surrounded by a bird on a flower, a ship, and a sun just really spoke to me so let’s see what this album is all about!
“Christopher” instantly brought a sense of warmth to my house. The smooth vocals mixed with the acoustic-based instrumentation whisked me away to another world. Even though the chorus brings more sound to the table, there’s something super simple feeling about this track that is absolutely infectious. It’s soft and sweet but full of the energy that I need to help me get through the rest of my Saturday night.
The ship on the cover made sense as “Heave Away” took over my speakers. According to the liner notes, this tune may have “began life as a sea shanty sung on whaling ships in the 1800s”. You o get this old school sea shanty vibe from this track but you also get something that can only be described as The Sweet Colleens’ sound. This is a super fun track and was an instant favorite of mine. What can I say- I love the ocean and I love things like The Renaissance Fair and this mixed those two worlds together in the best way possible.
The sea shanty vibe takes a new form for “Pyromania”. Although still infectiously folksy, this track tells a true story from one of the member’s rural Canadian home town. I won’t give away the story but this is one of those tracks that you start picturing the story that the lyrics are laying out in your head. Although the music is absolutely there in your head and helps set the scene for the story, I found myself more intrigued by the story than the music.
I never wanted the story of “Pyromania” to end but the sweet softness of “Walks In The Room” was a beautiful follow-up to bring me back to earth. This song is a bit more somber than the first couple of tracks but still tells a beautiful story of love. Although there were no epic pictures flying through my mind as they had on the previous track, I found myself completely lost in the story told in “Walks In The Room” so I was a little shook by the more traditional sound of “Boy Brady” took over my speakers. This is a fun track but I wanted more of the storytelling from this band and this track lacks words. Again, not a bad track but I think one thing that really stands out about The Sweet Colleens for me is the brilliant lyrics.
“Black-Eyed Suzie” is a frenzied track that lasts under two minutes but absolutely packs a punch. I could have said a million things about this track but it moves so quickly and I was so busy trying to catch it all that before I could really put it into words, “Little Bit Of This” had taken over. I like how the almost panicked speed of “Black-Eyed Suzie” is followed up by the more blues-infused and almost jazzy feeling of “Little Bit Of This”. Although a bit more bluesy, there’s still an undeniable sense of energy in this track that I fell in love with within seconds.
“Never Tire Of The Road” is another one of those tracks that tells a beautiful story (which, again, I refuse to tell you the details of because you really just need to hear this song and album) with a more Woody Guthrie feeling to it. I swear that I didn’t realize that Andy (the one who wrote this track) wrote this for the one and only Woody Guthrie but reading that in the liner notes as I let this track play definitely reassured me that I had nailed it on the influence on this track.
There’s an emotional tinge that takes over for “You Are The One” which makes it an absolutely beautiful track to hear. Although warmth is felt throughout this album, there’s something extra cozy about this track. It has waves of sound that, although not dramatic, are heard clear as day. The emotion turns into a bit of a waltz for “O Scotland” which now makes some of the influences heard previously in this track make sense. There’s an almost worldy sound that can be heard in all of the tracks on this album but I honestly was unable to put my finger on it until this track. Although one of the slower tracks on this album, I found myself so captivated by everything going on and, in the blink of an eye, it was done.
I was an instant fan of “Smile In There” due to the piano part that kicks this track off. Honestly, the lyrics were just the icing on the cake. Everything about this track made me want to get up and dance. Sadly, my cats probably felt it coming and B-lined for upstairs leaving me alone to dance with my bottle of water at my desk. I honestly would have been more than fine with the album ending on this track but The Sweet Colleens had one more track up their sleeves.
“Botany Bay” closes out this album on a note of pure beauty. This entire album is beautiful but I feel like this final track really brings that beauty and talent to the spotlight. Guest vocalist Katie MacMahon really makes this track dazzle with her absolutely stunning voice.
I regret letting this album sit on my desk for how long it did but I am so thankful that it ended up on my desk in the first place. This is a fun listen full of emotion, historical tracks, good vibes, and damn good musicianship. What a great album to spend a Saturday evening with.
My Favorite Track(s): “Heave Away”; “Smile In There”
For Fans Of: Renaissance Faires; Fiddles; Traveling on the Open Sea
Daydream-ability: 8 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Both cats slept upstairs
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 7 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 7.5 out of 10
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