The tiny hamlet of Manitou Springs, Colorado sits just below the soaring heights of Pikes Peak. A place frequented by thousands of tourists each year, it is a mecca for flatlanders and southerners longing for the cool mountain air and the remarkable views. It is also a haven for gifted songwriters and musicians. Among the most capable of these writers is Conor Bourgal, who along with his twin brother, Ian, and an interchangeable ensemble of musicians, form a group called the Changing Colors.
It is the surrounding mountains that inform the Color’s music and lend them it’s spiritual resonance. They are a band that sings of longing and beauty, hope and regret. Their latest album, Ghost of Red Mountain takes its entire theme from the legendary story of Manitou resident Emma Crawford. Sometime in the early 1900's Crawford’s coffin was washed down onto Main Street from it’s perch above town on Red Mountain. The story is the source of Manitou’s biggest festival – the internationally renowned Emma Crawford Coffin Races held each Halloween. Bourgal chose to look beyond the gothic story and to bring a hardscrabble pioneer woman’s life to light.
The result is a set of songs so poignant and moving that after a single play, they stay with the listener for days, creating a sustained whisper of love and yearning. Using the simplicity of acoustic guitar and the melancholy tone of a lap steel, Bourgal sings of promises of remembrance and anticipated romance. Their music is disquieting, creating aching images of piercing lament and burdens laid down. Bourgal’s narrative style creates stories of the human experience that are sparse, haunting and unforgettable.
The Color’s style remains accessible in its similarity to folk and Americana, but it’s substance is far more complex. Bourgal’s songs paint a landscape of the human journey through fear and despair into ultimate freedom and spiritual release. Each song on the album forms a particular scene in the narrative, moving toward ultimate transcendence. A recurring theme is separation – usually of lovers – and the passage through the anxiety and anguish of withdrawal. This experience is often examined from both perspectives – the one leaving and the one left behind. The ultimate theme is the transformation of the human spirit through acceptance of one’s migration through ordeal to triumph. Finally, the listener is left with a feeling of ascendancy and tranquilness.
Since their first show in June 2008, The Changing Colors have played over 100 shows in 7 states.