Smooth vocals soaring over flute and guitar start “Lightning Rider” with a lilting “Do you want to be my…?”, repeated like the sing-song voices of children at play.
Then the saw-like buzz of the cello enters, and similar vocals – an octave lower than the first – cut in with a more rugged earnestness. The song feels like the ideas of pastoral simplicity and purposeful partnership are having a conversation over coffee. The coffee shop is in a rougher part of town, though, and you only go to that place if you really like the dessert or if you’ve got a reason.
“Lightning Rider” has the feel of college days, when the artistry was earnest, the musicality of the environment was amazing, and we felt like we could change the world.
And maybe we can – “Lightning Rider” has me feeling like it’s possible, and invites me to join the cause. The confidence in the lyrics arrives like an invitation from a superhero to join a group of superheroes; the melody line that carries the positive social contagion comes with a focused vision and a set jaw; together, they tell us that we can make the good stuff happen and vanquish the foes if we just join forces.
In the context of Ollie Hobson’s (aka Color for Colors) debut album Heartache, “Lightning Rider” perhaps evokes the feelings he had at times in the company of his late sister Sophie, for whom the album serves as an homage and eulogy. Another song, “Find a New Hero,” begins with the suggestion that the former hero is gone – “a knock-out, over in a second”. “Lightning Rider” seems to be the prequel to “Find a New Hero.”
The instrumentation in “Lightning Rider” is unique within the album. In contrast another song, “Missed Calls,” most direct in reference to grief over his loss of Sophie, is somewhat anthemic. The constants that tie the album together musically are Color for Colors’ voice and guitar, and Sophie’s influence in her brother’s life is the corresponding spiritual thread.
“Lightning Rider” is a song that can play pleasantly in the background of a tea house or coffee shop, but it also carries a depth of meaning that can stir the mind and soul if you’re having your beverage on your own and take the time to listen.