Flying Days, the debut album of Jentri Colello's newest band, proves that the local singer could be the ruby in the dust Neil Young wrote about in "Cowgirl in the Sand." It's an album that shows a Colello who's lived enough life to make her world-weary lyrics plausible and who's indeed, as Young sang, old enough now to change her name - or the name of her band.
While some fans have questioned the group's name change, calling attention to the whole band rather than just its leading lady makes Colello's vocals stand out even more. The band's other members - Josh Harty on lead guitar, Tony Messinger on bass and keys, Phil Feutz on drums - create the haze that gives Colello's sultry pipes a sense of mystery.
Colello uses her voice and lyrics as a scalpel and a sword, emerging from this fog with delicate strokes, then jabbing straight at the heart. It's a jab that's rhythmic, almost percussive in "Sea of Monsters," as she utters, "But I still can't believe / Still can't believe that I / Still can't breathe / Around here," and "Will you take my hand / If I take your side?"
The path is more roundabout in "War, in Sequence," which uses a folk-rock treatment of carnival music, complete with accordion and woodwinds, to waltz you into a dark and dreamy place where a Ferris wheel gate is a metaphor for moving on.
The slow-burning "NY" shows Colello's Cat Power side, while "Disco Ball" recalls the moody pop of Aimee Mann, filtered through Ryan Adams' Heartbreaker. Meanwhile, the short and sweet "Faultline" bridges the gap between Edie Brickell's still-great 1988 debut, Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars, and the country-tinged Canadian rock of Kathleen Edwards, Sarah Harmer and even Shakey himself.