Colin Meloy Sings Live! is a 14-song set documenting The Decemberists’ lead singer/songwriter’s 2006 solo tour. Meloy’s two-week trek across the U.S. coincided with the release of Colin Meloy Sings Shirley Collins, his six-song EP paying homage to the revered British folksinger. While the latter collection (and its predecessor, Colin Meloy Sings Morrissey) were only sold on tour, Colin Meloy Sings Live! will be available at retail.
Meloy was heralded by Rolling Stone as “a master of improbable juxtaposition: arcane, detailed fictions of star-crossed passion and avenging bloodshed dressed up in indie-rock jangle, la-de-da choruses and vintage prog-rock bombast” in a review of The Decemberists’ show in New York’s Central Park last spring. By contrast, the live solo album presents him in a stripped-down, acoustic setting leading his audience on a spellbinding walk through his oeuvre thus far and providing a glimpse of some new material. Colin Meloy Sings Live! opens with “Devil’s Elbow” (dating back to his first band, Tarkio), touches on material from The Decemberists’ Castaways and Cutouts (“Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect,” “A Cautionary Song,” “California One/Youth and Beauty Brigade”), Her Majesty the Decemberists (“The Gymnast, High Above the Ground,” “The Bachelor and the Bride,” “Red Right Ankle”) and Picaresque (“We Both Go Down Together,” “The Engine Driver,” “On the Bus Mall”) and closes with a rarity – “Bandit Queen,” from The Decemberists’ 2006 Kill Rock Stars EP, Picaresqueties.
Of the 13 Meloy originals, two are previously unreleased compositions: “Dracula’s Daughter” and “Wonder.” Along the way, he employs snippets of songs from The Smiths, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd and REM and performs a version of the traditional folk song “Barbara Allen” that owes much to Shirley Collins’ arrangement. The collection also captures ample between-songs banter, with Meloy coaxing the audience into a campfire singalong, discoursing on Collins and addressing the presence of a skull named Cheryl, a ship and a stuffed sheep on the table beside him (tracks #3, 8 and 12 respectively).