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Graham Colton – “Pacific Coast Eyes”

Published on September 26th, 2011

Graham Colton has clearly decided that the straight path to success just isn’t for him. From a high school state champion quarterback, to playing coffee shops, to touring with huge names in music as The Graham Colton Band, to his solo albums and successes, Graham Colton, even by today’s crazy standards, has a very atypical story. “Pacific Coast Eyes” marks Colton’s 2nd full length solo album, his 8th solo release. Seriously, this guy has released 6 EPs in the last 4 years. That’s outstanding. And, here’s the kicker, they’re really good.

The first song I heard by Graham Colton was “Morning Light” with his band. My first thought was that he sounds like a singer-songwriter with a rock band. It had the personal lyrics made famous by guys with guitars, but the sound that could fill an amphitheater. If you don’t believe me, ask The Counting Crows, Train, John Mayer, Maroon 5, Dave Matthews Band and NeedToBreathe. He toured with all of them. This album, with “Here Right Now” (Graham’s first solo release in 2007), showcase the singer-songwriter side of Colton’s music and takes away the band moniker without taking away the rock sound. Its smaller venue worthy and intimate, more intimate than any concert with lawn seats.

“Pacific Coast Eyes” starts with a really catchy song in “Love Comes Back Around.” The song is an interesting experiment with a good guitar riff and some synth beats. Usually, I find these kinds of experiments are less than successful, but there are a few exceptions that turn out to be better than the sum of its parts (see William Fitzsimmons). It’s a pop song, no doubt, but its a good pop song. The album does a great job of not trying to pretend that it’s something it’s not. It’s pop music and not the kind of pop music that gets played on the radio for 12 year old girls. It’s pop music that doesn’t get played on the radio for exactly that reason. It’s smarter and more rocking than typical pop music.

The album’s themes won’t be a huge surprise to anyone, but it’s not the ideas that make the album unique. It’s the execution and feeling behind the lyrics that separates it from putting a guy with a decent voice behind a microphone and giving him cookie cutter songs to sing (I’m looking at you, everyone from American Idol.) “1981? and “Twenty Something” have similar themes with lyrics like “1981?s “Did you end up who you thought you would become?” and “Twenty Something”s “Halfway between somewhere and nothing, woke up and I’m twenty something.” It’s a sentiment that isn’t new, but is something that people in my generation can relate to incredibly well, myself especially.

Lyrically, “There Comes a Time” is brilliant. It’s a song that begins “Do you feel like your own home is a castle made of sand?” It’s a song that talks about the realizations of times past and confusion about what’s next. This song breaks out of the pop mold and is just plain great. “There comes a time when you realize,/ The past is over./ There comes a time when you decide,/ That your life has just begun./ There comes a time when you will say,/ That it’s undiscovered./ There comes a time, there comes a time.”

The album is one that you would expect if you were a fan of Graham Colton from the days with the band and the big tours. “Pacific Coast Eyes” surpasses the typical expectations of a singer-songwriter and blends the sounds of rock from the Graham Colton Band and the voice and honesty of one man with important things to tell the world.