Wednesday, April 16, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Johnny Colla’s ‘I Hear Voices’ is a delightful musical journey

JohnnyColla

By
From page B1 | November 30, 2012 | Leave Comment

If the sophomore jinx that supposedly curses artists’ second recordings actually exists, more should be as “cursed” as Huey Lewis and the News’s saxophonist/singer/songwriter Johnny Colla is with the release of “I Hear Voices.”

The Suisun City native’s second solo effort, following 2000’s “Lucky Devil,” is one of those rare gems that would sound just as great cuddled up with your honey on a couch in the winter (stocking stuffer – hint, hint) as well as blaring out of the car stereo on a scorching July day on the way to the beach.

The project started out as an a cappella tribute to some of the tunes that Colla loved while growing up, but eventually he added talented players and singers to augment the selections. Colla is the lead vocalist. His soulful, sincere instrument shines on each cut. Every song is rendered with obvious love and affection and, taken as a whole, the project reflects the gamut of human experience from joy to hope to loss to love. Plus, it’s a whole lotta fun.

“I Hear Voices” kicks off with “Our Prayer,” the a cappella Beach Boys song that was supposed to be the lead-off batter for their never-released “Smile” record. With glorious floating harmonies dished up by Colla and his wife Christie, it serves as a sort of invocation.

Any lingering solemnity hanging around after the enchanting opening number quickly flies out the door when the infectious, bouncy “Let Me In” kicks in. Colla’s voice, soulful and edgy yet ultimately sweet, is like an old friend. The song also features some tasty baritone sax by Johnnie Bamont.

“Lover Please” follows and the pleading lyrics paired with a jump-out-of-your-seat-and-dance melody creates a wonderful effect. The tune also happily lets the piano (Steve Lucjy) and sax take victory lap solos.

Colla slows it down on “Naturally,” a tune he penned for Huey Lewis and the News’ “Fore” album, which did not make it on the disc. It achieves that tricky balance of sounding familiar but not derivative. One of my favorite lines: “Love is a struggle and only the strong will survive, so it’s up to me and you to do what we‘ve gotta do to keep our love alive.” While it would have fit nicely on the Huey Lewis and the News’ album, it fits here, well, naturally.

Fifteen-year-old phenom Gabi Wilson, who hails from Vallejo, swings in a duet with Colla on the Chubby Checker hit “Slow Twistin’ ” and it is a ball. Again, the sax is phat and I defy anyone not to sing along.

“A Wonderful Dream” is very different from the falsetto-laden original, but certainly not lacking in heart. The haunting melody and idyllic lyrics of “So Much in Love” are handled deftly by Colla.

I have to say that having “Little Bitty Pretty One,” which features harmonized humming in its intro following the toe-tapping song “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um” with its moaned title repeated throughout, was a stroke of genius. Both are smooth, affecting and the harmonies are to die for.

“A Lover’s Question,” from 1958, follows and is a delicate and sweet treat.

Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” is a song that I grew up loving and Colla’s arrangement swings. The only thing is, I expected a solo that never came. Not a replica of the iconic Brian May guitar solo in the original, but maybe a tasty piano or sax one. Still, the song doesn’t need it: that’s just my Queen snobbishness.

“Save the Last Dance” is a classy way to close out the delightful journey “I Hear Voices” takes the listener on and you are left satisfied, yet wanting more.

I understand that Colla is remixing another version of the album true to the original a cappella vision and that would be wonderful as well. Labor of love is cliché, but I tell you, with this disc, it’s almost like you can see the performers smiling. They do each song wonderful justice by adding just what is needed to service it.

While the musicianship is impeccable, the true star of the show throughout is Colla’s voice. He lives in each song.

 Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at over40rocker@sbcglobal.net.

Tony Wade

Tony Wade

Tony Wade is the slightly older yet infinitely more handsome brother of long-time DR columnist Kelvin Wade
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Supervisor candidates file conflict-of-interest forms

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1

Vacaville set to usher in new chapter for Police Department

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Solano Jews gather for start of Passover

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Suisun council debates train depot renovation

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
 
Trial begins for teacher accused of abusing children

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3

Suisun police ID shooting victim

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
County discusses consolidated dispatch

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

Miner Slough Bridge to see repairs

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
 
 
‘Heaven is for Real’ opens Wednesday

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B5

Fiesta Days pageant organizers seek contestants

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

 
Easter hunt set for Mare Island

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

 
Coakley joins Solano fair board

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

Crews make quick work of vehicle fire

By Glen Faison | From Page: A6, 6 Comments | Gallery

 
Paper Clover Campaign supports Solano County 4-H

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A6

 
Hundreds flock to Krispy Kreme as it opens doors

By Susan Winlow | From Page: B9 | Gallery

 
County to honor Solano educators

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A14

.

US / World

Officials: Huge San Francisco blaze was accidental

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
‘Shrimp Boy’ pleads not guilty in corruption case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Immigration activists urge Obama to act boldly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Congress is giving states the transportation blues

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Police: Suspects in killings wore GPS devices

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

DNA alternative to Pap smear sparks medical debate

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Robot sub returns to water after 1st try cut short

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Supremacist faces murder charges in Kansas deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Ukraine: Military secures airport from attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Democrats have outside money advantage – for now

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
First women move into Army platoon artillery jobs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Final deadline arrives for health exchange sign-up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
New LA newspaper embraces print in digital world

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Hamas praises deadly West Bank shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A15

 
2 dead after ferry sinks off SKorean coast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A15

.

Opinion

Expand Red Top Road

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13

 
Oh, for the days of Dr. Welby

By Dan K. Thomasson | From Page: A13, 9 Comments

 
Poor Judgement in Flight 370 column

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13

Senseless babble that hurts

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13

 
.

Living

What love gives you

By Barton Goldsmith | From Page: A2

 
.

Entertainment

Boston Globe wins Pulitzer for bombing coverage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Lindsay Lohan’s mom pleads guilty to DWI in NY

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Strahan’s ‘GMA’ side job confirmed with his visit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
.

Sports

Indians shut out Mustangs

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Cal hires Tennessee’s Cuonzo Martin as coach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Warriors trying to move on without Andrew Bogut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Sharks’ Torres uncertain for playoff opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

MLB marks 67th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Ex-Minnesota State, Mankato coach returning to job

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Panthers jump Sabres to win NHL draft lottery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
More former players sue NHL regarding concussions

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

49ers sign WR Brandon Lloyd to 1-year deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

Twitter buys data analytics partner Gnip

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Yellen signals more aggressive stance toward banks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

.

Obituaries

Evonne Medina

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Carolyn McClelland

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics