You could say that Graham Colton has pursued a career plan less taken: Starting out early on with chart-topping success, tour dates with the likes of Counting Crows and Dave Matthews Band, and prime late-night TV performances, Colton left a major-label existence behind to follow a different path with his more recent work, relying on his own creative instincts and a Kickstarter campaign to realize them. As Colton describes the career trajectory that led him to his new self-released album Lonely Ones, “When I started to think about this new record, it had a lot to do with overcoming fear of working outside my comfort zone and what was expected. I had a great run being on the label and had some amazing experiences, but I knew moving forward I had to take a new step and rediscover the feeling I had when I first started writing and creating music.”
Part of stepping out of that comfort zone and growing as an artist is the result of the collaborations Colton found himself in when he returned home to Oklahoma City, including forging connections with Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd. “I drove my car to Wayne’s house and we spent a long time listening to music like the Beach Boys and talking about my vision for the album and the types of songs I wanted to write. He loaned me a few of the Flaming Lips keyboards and told me to twist this knob and push that button, and the new sounds led to songs that were different from what I’d done in the past.” And while Coyne’s influence isn’t necessarily explicit in a trippy way on Lonely Ones, there’s a richness and sense of drama to Colton’s songs that take his music out of more familiar singer-songwriter territory.
Premiering here on PopMatters, Graham Colton’s Lonely Ones is due out 21 January.