If ever a radio station and an artist represented a perfect fit, it would be Austin’s KGSR and singer-songwriter Wendy Colonna. An adult-alternative bastion of tasteful sensitivity and mature gentility, KGSR can be too polite for its own good, but its commitment to serious artists who don’t fit comfortably into any contemporary category makes it a rarity on the commercial end of the dial. Like much of the music played on KGSR, Colonna’s recorded work is vaguely rootsy, kinda pop, mildly rocking, and never remotely threatening. When you add her commanding vocal presence and sure sense of studio craft, it’s little wonder that she was voted “Best New Artist” last year by KGSR program director Jody Denberg.
Fri, Jun 9
1903 S. St. Mary’s
In fact, Colonna is far from being a new artist. The Lousiana native began recording her debut CD, Girls of Stone, nine years ago at the age of 19 (it was eventually released in 2000). In 2003, she began to build a buzz with her moody sophomore collection, Red. Her growth since that album’s release is evident in the version of the breakup lament “Coffee Today” that appears on her latest release, Right Where I Belong. The song was first featured on Red, in a spare acoustic treatment with an unconvincing, mildly affected vocal from Colonna. On Right Where I Belong, her voice sounds fuller, more soulful.
That voice falls somewhere between Bonnie Raitt, Shelby Lynne, and Joan Osborne, and is capable of expressing bluesy longing one minute, sweet optimism the next. Colonna is the kind of charismatic performer who can temporarily convince you that any old dime-a-dozen love song is the greatest composition this side of Mozart. Fortunately, Right Where I Belong doesn’t require that leap too often.
- Gilbert Garcia