Gabriella Cohen – Pink Is The Colour of Unconditional Love
You could spend hours listening to Gabriella Cohen’s new record Pink Is The Colour of Unconditional Love and picking out the influences you feel have rubbed off on her work.
Old fellas like Jonathan Richman and Lou Reed all shine through in her warm, natural, relatable phrasing. Cohen very plainly tells us what she sees, what she feels and how she thinks on each of the songs here.
‘I like LA cos the people are mean / I like LA cos the people seem clean / I saw many homeless on the concrete / While bikini girls strut down Venice Beach’, she sings in ‘Music Machine’.
I mean, no one’s rushing to notify the Pulitzer committee, but it’s refreshing to hear such unassuming clarity and there are plenty of lines just like this that place you right there with Cohen as she’s performing.
That track is in some ways a bit of an outlier in the context of the record. On it, Cohen pontificates on the grind of the music business at this (kinda) early stage of her career.
But most of the record is focused on topics that a broader audience will relate to. Malaise, uncertainty, heartache and more than a few glints of welcome optimism to provide some balance.
Musically, the most striking influence comes from the world of doo-wop and 60s R&B girl groups.
It seems like Cohen put a great deal of focus on the stunning harmonies that float in and out of the record. The kind of girl-group vocals that are at once nostalgic and timeless.
Those harmonies contribute significantly to the sweetness that abounds in these songs. Even the darkest tracks are given a slice of sunshine in the way Cohen frames them.
The jazzy vamp of ‘I Feel So Lonely’ swings the blues away, the folky doo-wop of ‘Miserable Baby’ sounds completely familiar – both musically and subject-wise – and even the introspective ‘Recognise My Fate’ brims with hope for new beginnings and a simple, unassuming future.
Even with these complex vocal arrangements, Pink Is The Colour of Unconditional Love feels like such a natural, heartfelt record. Working again with ‘partner-in-crime’ Kate ‘Babyshakes’ Dillon, Cohen shied away from taking an ultra-slick approach to recording her newest material and kept faith in the songs themselves. It was a good call, they’re better this way.
Her playfulness and joyous experimentation is what makes Gabriella Cohen’s music such a joy. Her talent is what both ensures she her ambition is fulfilled and prevents anything here from being overblown. It’s a hugely charming record that helps us learn so much more about Cohen as both a musician and a person.