Colour Outside the Lines is an album of mature lyrics, married to a soundscape that blends in elements of pop, Appalachian music, Bluegrass, and folk. The eleven tracks, all written and sung by Jim Standard, who also adds acoustic guitar, look at modern relationships, love, and the world how it is.

The Opium Wars is a serious look at a significant, unreported problem, so the album has good intentions, but it is always listenable. Fake News looks at the effect gossip can have, and the jokey, and upbeat Witness Protection is about the end of a relationship and needing help to get through it.

“Virtuoso musicianship”

Virtuoso musicianship on banjo, fiddle, dobro, and accordion add colour to the songs, whilst the tuneful lead guitar of Jon Skibic adds a mature, Mark Knopfler like colour to proceedings. The singers Bethany and Peter Yarrow contribute harmony vocals to the opening track Home and the slower ballad Arkansas. The title is a song of lilting pathos, and When My Truck blends acoustic guitar arpeggios with a strong vocal performance.

The closing track is a love song with a bluegrass feel, much helped by the playing of Wanda Vick on Fiddle, Dobro and Banjo. There is much to like on this collection. It shines a light on a world that we do not usually think about, but which is out there, waiting for talented writers and performers like Jim Stanard to show them to us. The attractive musical packaging of the songs and no extraneous solos means that this is an album that rewards repeated plays.

BEN MACNAIR

Checkout the album preview on Apple Music!