One Year [50th Anniversary Edition]

Colin Blunstone

(CD - Sundazed #CDSUND 5606)

Review by Fred Thomas

With One Year, his proper debut as a solo artist after the late-'60s dissolution of his groundbreaking band the Zombies, vocalist/songwriter Colin Blunstone turned all of his musical gifts inward. Titled after the span between 1970 and 1971 in which it was slowly recorded, One Year is a gorgeous and subtle document of heavy changes in Blunstone's life, reflecting on the time directly following the end of his band and a crushing breakup. A palpable melancholy runs through even the most chipper songs, noticeable in the hints of disdain on upbeat lounge rock opener "She Loves the Way They Love Her" before taking center stage when the energy comes down on soft chamber pop numbers like “Misty Roses” and “Though You Are Far Away.” The album is split mostly between these two approaches, with islands of blue-eyed soul like “Mary Won’t You Warm My Bed” and the wistful catchiness of “Caroline Goodbye” separated by long passages of minimal Baroque pop. Some of the most powerful songs are those that present nothing more than spare string arrangements and Blunstone’s aching, whispery vocals. “Smokey Day” somehow achieves a somber kind of psychedelia, with Blunstone’s eerie double-tracked vocal harmonies floating on a cloud of wandering strings. The mood throughout One Year is consistently gentle but never sleepy, as deft construction and sophisticated songwriting make even the most restrained songs captivating. The labored production, detailed composition, and deliberate pace of One Year all cohere to perfectly mirror the emotional upheaval of trying to mend a broken heart. Blunstone’s work with the Zombies produced some of the most inarguably important psychedelic pop of its era, but in its own quiet way, One Year is even more ambitious than the Zombies were at their creative peak. The production alone speaks to this, employing live string players and moving meticulously where limited budgets and recording deadlines only allowed for Mellotron parts to represent the string sounds on the Zombies' definitive work Odessey and Oracle. Though former Zombies Rod Argent and Chris White have a hand in production and songwriting, the atmosphere here is solitary and reflective, differing from the collaborative excitement that crackled in even the more subdued Zombies material. Marked by a thoughtfulness that’s always on the brink of despair, One Year is an understated masterpiece. It drifts by quickly but connects immediately, capturing the same stir of conflicting feelings as remembering a time that will never happen again, or a romance you wish hadn’t ended quite so soon. [The 50th Anniversary Edition includes 14 extra songs recorded around the same time, including home demos and studio recordings that didn't appear on the album. In particular, the stripped-down piano and guitar rendition of "Caroline Goodbye" shows a different angle of the album's specific downturned beauty.]

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Colin Blunstone 02:51 SpotifyAmazon
2 Colin Blunstone 05:06 SpotifyAmazon
3 Colin Blunstone 03:14 SpotifyAmazon
4 Colin Blunstone 02:56 SpotifyAmazon
5 Colin Blunstone 03:25 SpotifyAmazon
6 Colin Blunstone 03:13 SpotifyAmazon
7 Colin Blunstone 03:32 SpotifyAmazon
8 Colin Blunstone 03:29 SpotifyAmazon
9 Colin Blunstone 02:26 SpotifyAmazon
10 Colin Blunstone 03:20 SpotifyAmazon
11 Colin Blunstone 02:46 SpotifyAmazon
12 Colin Blunstone 02:46 SpotifyAmazon
13 Colin Blunstone 01:30 SpotifyAmazon
14 Colin Blunstone 02:40 SpotifyAmazon
15 Colin Blunstone 02:16 SpotifyAmazon
16 Colin Blunstone 03:07 SpotifyAmazon
17 Colin Blunstone 02:42 SpotifyAmazon
18 Colin Blunstone 02:13 SpotifyAmazon
19 Colin Blunstone 02:12 SpotifyAmazon
20 Colin Blunstone 01:36 SpotifyAmazon
21 Colin Blunstone 02:34 SpotifyAmazon
22 Colin Blunstone 01:54 SpotifyAmazon
23 Colin Blunstone 02:23 SpotifyAmazon
24 Colin Blunstone 01:31 SpotifyAmazon
blue highlight denotes track pick