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    Colour the Small One (Bonus Tracks)

    Tue, 24 Jan 2006 17:11:40

    Album Reviews: Colour the Small One (Bonus Tracks) by Sia

    American fans of Zero 7 and the HBO drama Six Feet Under already know Sia Furler, and many of them probably already own a copy of this, her second solo album, which has been available in the U.K. for two years but is just now finally getting a U.S. release. Sia is the voice of some of Zero 7's best-known slices of chillout soul, including "Destiny" and "Somersault," and it was her song "Breathe Me" that accompanied the famous "flash forward" montage that marked the conclusion of Six Feet Under.

    With a track record like that, it's hard not to approach Colour the Small One with high expectations. But despite some lush string arrangements and climactic moments like the undeniably stunning "Breathe Me," Sia's second solo outing remains a doggedly modest affair, marked by simple melodies and understated vocals from a singer who, with Zero 7, was often guilty of over-emoting. On the album's best moments, this low-key approach works beautifully; songs like "Butterflies" and "The Bully," which Sia co-wrote with Beck, are at once expansive and claustrophobic, rich with atmosphere but anchored by an almost folksy vibe and Sia's pretty yet conversational singing style. At other times, as on the sleepy "Don't Bring Me Down," Sia's soft purr gets lost in all those lush strings and programmed beats, and her simple melodies just float off into the ether.

    Despite these few weak spots, Colour the Small One is still an impressive solo effort, exquisitely produced by Jimmy Hogarth and filled with moments of beauty and grace. The U.S. version also boasts two remixes of "Breathe Me" by producers Ulrich Schnauss and Four Tet, so fans of that song can really gorge themselves on its soaring allure. -- Andy Hermann

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