The fact of the matter is that the lead singer of Color It Red can sing the phonebook and still grab the attention of the most indifferent listener. Blame it on what the veteran rock journalist Eric Caruncho calls the “honeyed alto” of Cooky Chua. “Silver,” the fifth studio album of Color It Red and its first crowd-funded recording to celebrate the band’s quarter century mark, is no phonebook, however. On the contrary, after giving this album a spin or two, I dare say it is one fine OPM ear candy of an album from start to finish both in the lyrics and melody department. Here’s why.
Di Magtatagal, the opening power rock anthem, is my personal favourite. Thanks to its driving guitar riff that does not let up and its finely-crafted lyrical take on what AQ enthusiasts call endurance – the 4th ingredient of one’s ability to bounce back. Those who are able to perceive a difficult situation as something that will not last will most likely thrive in adversity. Those who regard difficulties with a sense of permanence will languish in despair. If you want to hear how endurance and hope sound like musically, give this a listen. “Wag ka na sanang mag-alala at hindi magtatagal, hindi magtatagal.”
Buhay is a Pinoy rhythm and blues number penned by rock veteran Gary Perez. It starts off as a naïve idealist’s lament about the inherent injustice of life but soon transforms itself into a musical desiderata guaranteed to help you triumph over life’s adversities. “Buhay ay sadyang ganyan kung di kikilos ay mahihirapan.” Check out the symphony of rhythm and blues guitar voicings provided by Barbi Paraguya on rhythm, Bobip Paraguya on bass, Ariel Policarpio on lead guitar and Kwachi Vergara on lead guitar with Jayvee Torres’ drumwork tightly orchestrating them even as Chua does Perez proud with her signature vocal power.
Maggie composed by the long-time CIR lyricist Barbi Paraguya in collaboration with Chua and Policarpio, boasts of a melody that would easily land it in a Crossover 105.1 playlist. It’s one song that stands out as an endearing ode that only a doting mother could write for a daughter whose “twinkling eyes and curly hair…fill my heart with laughter celebrate my love and it always amazes me the mystery it is to me. The more I give my life much more is given back to me.”
Disk-o, as you may infer from the title, is a throwback dance track in the tradition of VST and Company. In fact, in several sections of the song its chord pattern threatens to segue to “Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko.” Behind its disco-flavored melody line however, hides the sadness of a once young love that must now come to grips with loneliness. “Kay sarap kapag nagsisimula buo ang puso nating dalawa…Kanino na ko maglalambing ngayong wala ka na sa aking piling.”
Umuwi Ka Na haunts with its ominous-sounding pop rock chorus. It might as well be a fitting retort to the lover’s sighs in Disk-o. This is the exact sentiment of a lover who has gotten tired of waiting for a beloved with neither promise nor guarantee. Thus, its exhortation to: “umuwi ka na, umuwi ka na” sung in a manner that tells you he/she has had enough. The song fascinates with the consolation that it offers in the lover’s conviction that “maghintay ka’t sa katagalan ikaw ang kanyang babalikan.”
Weeh from the prolific master lyricist Gary Granada is a lovely jazz-tinged reggae number reminiscent of Marley’s “Waiting in Vain” with a twist. Its lyrics are a delightful testament to the playful wit and scathing humor of Granada at his finest. “…may pasok kahit holiday…mga bagay na di dapat ma delay…alam mo namang alam ko namang alam mo na ang pag-ibig ko’y di matitinag…dun sa prisinto ka magpaliwanag hindi ako bingi, hindi ako bulag.” Chua should someday do a Granada tribute album a’la Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat.
Move On is possibly the most surprising composition in this album. Thanks to the cameo of Gloc 9 whose intriguing Fliphop take on moving on makes an already engaging rock song soar beyond the stratosphere. It’s also the most cryptic, incidentally, among the 10 songs in Silver. “Beneath the surface is a shadow of someone that I use to know. Ignorance is a one-way street and a smile that’s in disguise. And when it hurts you so bad it cuts right down to the core.”
Where Does the Love Go? would make a good carrier single after the opening track. Like Maggie, this is one song that is a shoe-in if you’re thinking of a Crossover playlist. Its easy listening melody contrasts with the songwriter’s experience of frustration and despair in the heels of falling out of love. “But after all the bitter tears flowed from eyes that used to shine. Tell me where does the love go?”
Questions is what a JesCom-produced pop song would sound like if its lyrics were to be given the power pop treatment by a band of CIR’s calibre. Its rousing rhythmic chorus is guaranteed to induce a last song syndrome experience: “So my heart sits on a desert beach where seasons change but time stands still. I sift for questions through the sand will answers wash upon my hand.”
Kwento, the album’s closing track which opens with a hypnotic solo guitar chord pattern essays the observations of a former lover who has virtually become a stranger to his/her beloved. “…ako’y iyong nilagpasan. Ang ating kwento tapos na.” Here’s hoping this closing track is not CIR’s swan song. It may be the case that it is quite a challenge to be a band at a time when recording companies are folding up and the business model that used to bring in tons of money to both artists and recording companies is still gestating in the face of file sharing, YouTube and Spotify. “Mahirap ang daan. Ito’y pangako.”
Pero di dapat dito matapos ang kwento ng bandang ito. At ang sampung awitin sa taas ay syang patotoo.
This, afterall, is one Silver that should be called Gold and made Platinum.
So do your ears and hearts a favour. Get their album while you still can.