It’s true - singer songwriter Graham Colton has an uncanny pop sensibility with deep roots in folk and rock music that has already earned him both critical and mainstream acclaim. His latest album, Pacific Coast Eyes, the follow up to 2008’s Here Right Now, hits right in the pocket of what Graham does best: write lyrics about universal themes of love and loss, and everything between in a way that uniquely ties himself to the listener; and most importantly, enables them to feel as though they are hearing the story of their own lives through Graham’s music. In many ways Colton HAS been the soundtrack to people’s lives. His story is one that aspiring musicians dream of - while playing local coffeehouses, he routinely handed out homemade CDs – one of which found its way onto the internet online tastemakers could provide. The chatter eventually reached one of his biggest influences, Adam Duritz, who asked him to open for the Counting Crows. Colton put a band together, went on tour and scored a label deal. Through sheer hard work and relentless perseverance, Colton went on tour with the likes of John Mayer, Maroon 5, OAR, Dave Matthews Band, Train, The Wallflowers and pop superstar Kelly Clarkson. Along the way he wrote amazing songs, including “Best Days,” for the album Here Right Now, which was chosen as “Song of the Week” on iTunes, accruing over 700,000 downloads. “Best Days” became the exit music for American Idol, was used in a year-end commercial for HBO and was chosen by none other than Oprah Winfrey for her Big Give television specials. Here Right Now debuted at #2 on the Billboard New Artist chart and #4 on the iTunes Pop Chart, and led to Graham being asked to perform on a cavalcade of television shows including Ellen, The Tonight Show, Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Today Show and Live! With Regis & Kelly. After such heady success, Colton took time to re-group; deciding to get 100% behind his career and go indie again, he holed himself up in his hometown of Oklahoma City to begin to put down the words, ideas and melodies that had been banging around his head. The result is the pop perfect Pacific Coast Eyes, with hummable choruses and sing-a-long verses that is the ideal musical companion to the summer of 2011.
I remember when I was kid, being dumbfounded, paralyzed and terrified all at once, when the notion of infinity first dawned on me. I think that I was eleven years old and in the sixth grade at Enders Road Elementary School. It was then, that the expanse of the Universe and the endless stream of time first dwarfed my perception of my own reality and it was then, for the very first time that I felt afraid and alone. This pre-pubescent, existential crisis was thankfully subverted by a fortunate discovery. Music. Sure, I had been listening to bands like Def Leppard, Quiet Riot and Kiss on expandable suitcase-record player since I was seven, which was all well and good. But, it was the sound of the Grateful Dead, emanating from my Sanyo boombox, as I laid in my bunk bed, that reconnected me to the world, humanity and I dare say, the universe. There was a language of truth that I had never heard before in Jerry Garcia’s fiery playing (circa the 1971, ‘Skull and Roses’ release), that intertwined in conversation, chorus and harmony with Bob Weir’s, glassy, rhythmic punctuations. The entire band was communicating with each other and it’s audience in way that I could barely comprehend. Suddenly, I was no longer alone. Shortly thereafter, I flipped that 90 minute Maxell tape over and discovered a resonance of similar amplitude in the songs and voice of Cat Stevens. Of course, his music was of a completely different shade, but the connection was just as strong. It was clear to me, at that moment, in my eleven year old mind, that Cat had pondered the same questions and fears that I had in my early existentialism. Again I realized, I was not alone. What followed between then and now, was probably not all that different than the experience that many American songwriters have had growing up. My uncle gave me a guitar, I became obsessed with the recordings of the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens and the like, and I began to figure out how to play some songs. Slowly (though not particularly surely) I would also begin to find my voice as a singer, a player and a writer. Eventually, I found my way to New York City, then on to Los Angeles and onto stages all across the land. All of that stuff hardly seems as important though, as that discovery that I made when I was just a kid. It wasn’t necessarily The Dead, Jerry or Cat Stevens, specifically…it really could have been anyone, I think. Sam Cooke, Michael Jackson, Charlie Parker…Frank Sinatra. What I discovered, was the connective power of music. Every once in a while, throughout my life, I will forget and when I do, I suppose that I let my perception of the world around me fade in to black and white. Then, I will hear a voice, or a song…or find myself onstage with a particularly open and enthusiastic audience, or sharing a harmony with a friend…and BOOM! Everything explodes back into technicolor. So – that is what I do. I seek that connection. I search for that sound. I suspect that the universe has some particular resonant frequencies and I believe that is truth that we are all looking for. Just as it exists in the physical world, I think that we can find that resonance in melody, harmony, rhythm and poetry. I was lucky enough to discover it very early on in my life – and so, I take that as a hint from the universe that I should encourage and enable others to make similar discoveries. Thanks for taking the time to read this and here’s hoping you can find it too.
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