The Reds, Pinks & Purples is the solo project of San Francisco musician Glenn Donaldson, whose DIY-pop sensibilities has led him to condense the moments of his life and neighborhood and capture it in their third album Uncommon Weather. These are songs that feel heavily close to home, one that transports us to the inner workings of his soul along with that of his hometown.
The title uncommon weather denotes plenty of changes in climate, along with it his sentiments towards the culture, the people and even towards the local architecture. Donaldson himself being a visually-driven artist, the pastel colors featured in the album’s cover art bleeds through to his sound. Handling the recording process and playing every instrument himself has resulted in a blend of washed out textures, nostalgic warmth and dreamy images one could trace to classics like Robert Smith and Sarah Records. Nostalgia and responding to change is inherent in Donaldson’s songwriting – borrowing heavily from a classic pop past while superimposing a portrait of San Francisco from his perspective into the music.
The warmth of Donaldson’s guitar and the cool shades of his reverb-drenched vocals are what I find most interesting in these songs. Its DIY charm is front and center, but instead of feeling clumsy, the imperfections and small blemishes give it a familiar feel – like a blanket you’ve been using forever that’s frayed but still full of love.
Some of the songs in Uncommon Weather may seem tragic, with titles like “I Hope I Never Fall in Love” and “A Kick in the Face (That’s Life)”, but these are balanced out with endearing melodies that feel like your ears are pampered with every jangly line, every tambourine beat and blissful melody.
These songs are dense melancholic pop pieces with plenty of feeling and intention behind every note. Stand-outs like “Pictures of the World” have an epic feeling to it – with percussion driven up and the instruments swelling like a festival. “Sing Roses for Me” is a serenade and an earworm with harmonies that melt through your soul. “The Songs You Used to Write” is another dear favorite of mine – a song that serves as a tribute for all the artists that have influenced and left a mark on your life.
Uncommon Weather is a labor of love. A self-recorded and self-performed ode to the ever-fluctuating scenery and experiences from a brilliant mind. A record perfect for a quiet day of appreciating where we are and how we got here.