Colin Blunstone | PHOTO BY MATTHEW WHITE
Updated: May 8, 2014 4:28PM
Few voices in popular music have aged as gracefully as that of Colin Blunstone. Two years ago, the singer celebrated his 50th anniversary with British psychedelic pop heroes the Zombies by touring behind a new album entitled “Breathe Out, Breathe In.” That familiar, breathy tone heard on singles like 1964’s “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No” remains, but Blunstone’s instrument has grown richer and more expressive with passing years.
Despite the Zombies’ reputation for perfectly refined pop confections, Blunstone’s depth as a writer and interpreter of song is no surprise to anyone who followed him into his solo career. Blunstone’s performance on “Caroline Goodbye” from 1971’s “One Year” album conveyed the hollow emotional state and resignation that followed his breakup with Hammer horror film actress and Bond girl Caroline Munro. Tim Hardin’s delicate “Misty Roses” showcased Blunstone’s jazz sensibilities while exploring the paradox of a starcrossed romance. “Too good to last,” he sings with a sigh, “but too lovely not to try.”
Blunstone is currently supporting his eleventh solo album, “On the Air Tonight.” “Turn Your Heart Around” bursts with power and youthful energy, with Blunstone’s voice reaching cathedral heights alongside a stratospheric rock guitar solo. The gentler “So Much More” finds the spark within an enduring relationship that has weathered many storms.
Thursday’s audience at City Winery can expect such fresh surprises to accompany trips down memory lane with classics like the Zombies’ “Time of the Season.” Occasionally, both events might occur simultaneously. The re-imagined “Though You Are Far Away” was first released as the b-side to “Caroline Goodbye.” The original featured pizzicato plucks and string quartet alongside Blunstone’s keening, wistful vocal. The childlike sound suggested a music box dancer’s accompaniment.
The new album’s version replaces these wistful elements with autumnal piano that taps a deeper sense of melancholy, rather than the original version’s fond remembrances. “Close your eyes, and you will see,” sings Blunstone while attempting to cheer an absent lover. Expect the performance to be wrapped in the kind of silence that permits an audience to actually hear a pin drop. Be sure your cell phone is silenced.
Blunstone has proven to be a master of a concert’s dynamic arc. The stunning power of his quietest moments will likely be balanced with bold choruses like “I Don’t Believe in Miracles,” the Technicolor joy of the bouncing “Care of Cell 44,” and the swooning bossa nova “Dancing in the Starlight.”
♦ Colin Blunstone, with Edward Rogers, 8:00 p.m. May 15, City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph. $35-$45. (312) 733-9463; citwinery.com. SPOTIFY playlist: http://tinyurl.com/BlunstoneSPOT