Lonely Ones doesn’t feel like a manufactured change, though, and Colton’s wise choice in marrying his intrinsic tendency toward soaring, ear-friendly melodies with some quirkier sonic sensibilities — owed to a push from friend Wayne Coyne — is nothing if not natural. This sounds like where Graham was meant to be all along.
The opening romp of “Mixed Up” and lead single “Born to Raise Hell” find Colton at his most unfettered, with vocals and summery guitar riffs beaming with a delightful bounce. It’s new territory, and he feels eager to play in it.
The tether to that old comfort zone feels tighter in the conventional but charming “Summer to Me” and “Hands Untied,” though the more off-kilter Colton allows himself to be, the better he gets. He runs wild in the six-minute theatrical swell of “Til the Night Runs Out,” even flirting with alt-R&B in “Shoreline,” and high points come in quick succession the further out he travels.
Aided by a great cast of local musicians (Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips, Brine Webb, Chelsey Cope and more) and recorded at Blackwatch Studios, Lonely Ones is a bold and vital step forward. Colton sounds alive, excited about making music again and, by every measure, in his finest form yet. — Joshua Boydston