‘Blue No More’, the third album by Gabriella Cohen, is so fresh and bright, you can almost taste the salty air and sense the sun’s rays reflecting off the vast ocean. There’s a spaciousness to the instrumentation and harmonies on these 10 songs, but Cohen’s voice sounds intimately close. She’s a breath away from kissing your ear.
The Brisbane-born, Melbourne-based artist’s debut 2016 solo album ‘Full Closure and No Details’ proved her depth as an artist, and her readiness to step away from being frontwoman for The Furrs. That intoxicatingly dark and gothic album was followed by ‘Pink Is The Colour of Unconditional Love’ in 2018, which was mostly recorded on a farm in regional Victoria but finished while on a US tour with Foxygen. With a microphone and digital interface, Cohen and her engineer Kate Dillon completed the album by recording aboard a boat in England, travelling through Portugal, traversing Southern Italy, Mexico, and California.
That album, like her newest, managed to find cohesion in the many musical styles and genres she has immersed herself in on global travels. Think gospel, bossa nova, Southern country and soul, New Orleans jazz and blues and psychedelic folk.
‘But I Wanted To’ is a bluesy-rock party anthem, harking back to Keith and Mick’s magic on ‘Goat’s Head Soup’. There’s an adventurousness on that Rolling Stones classic, and in embracing a melting pot of Afro-Latin sounds together with US blues and gospel influence, Cohen’s ‘Blue No More’ treads similar moody terrain, both fiercely vibrant and exploratory, but tarred with melancholy.
‘Water’ is an unadorned lullaby, in which Cohen gently beseeches her beloved to “be nice to your body, it’s the only place you’ll li-ii-ive, so stop tearing around, blackening your lungs.” It evokes Joan Baez’s beautiful ‘Diamonds & Rust’: What begins as Cohen’s rich, honeyed voice over the subtle strum of an acoustic guitar, as if she’s out on a porch in the soft morning sun, becomes fuller with the ebb-and-flow of a choral “oooh-ooooh” punctuating her verses.
The call-and-response on ‘Son Of A Gun’ manages to merge a deep, primitive beat with maracas, whisky bottles tapped with a pencil a la cowbell, the smack of two sticks, honky-tonk piano and gospel-type harmonies – all to tell the story of walking down the street for a salad roll.
But the standout is the luscious title track, ‘Blue No More’. Cohen turns the phrase into a luxurious, sweetly melancholic mantra, the words rolling off her tongue a cappella like waves cascading on a shore. The hypnotic quality of her lovely voice is only broken by the sounds of a birthday party, like a vivid memory flashing back unannounced.
From the horns, juicy bassline and handclaps of ‘I Just Got So High’ through to the romantic synths and bluesy, lachrymose vocal refrains of ‘Rewind’, Cohen reflects the truth of humanity through her musical genre-hopping: we are so many layered things, but ultimately, existing in rhythmic unity in this big, chaotic world.
- Release date: January 21
- Record label: Independent