After her first album in 2009 failed to make an impact, Priscilla Renea focused on songwriting for the next nine years. She wrote and co-wrote hits like Pitbull’s “Timber,” Fifth Harmony’s “Worth It,” and “Somethin’ Bad,” the duet between country queens Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert. All those styles and sounds come together in Renea’s second album Coloured, which came out June 22.
Renea starts out strong with “Family Tree,” a raw autobiography about the singer’s life. It reminded me of Brandi Carlile and old-school country songs in a genre full of party-ready anthems. Renea’s voice is powerful, soulful, and unmistakably genuine. The third song, “Gentle Hands,” served as the lead single for the album and is probably the most sultry-sounding prayer ever as Renea asks God for a man with a truck, who drinks sweet tea, and wears Timberland boots. “Heavenly” slows things down a bit and has a more classic sound complete with bell-like piano and soaring vocals. “If I Ever Loved You” follows in a similar path, while “You Shaped Box” features a gorgeous Spanish guitar interlude.
The most poppy-sounding song on the album is “Denim,” with its romantic vocals and catchy beat. “Different Color” is just as catchy, though it features a more serious message. Lyrics include references to a “Big White House” going dark and questions about how humans treat one another. Renea’s social commentary continues on the last track of the album, “Land of the Free,” with lyrics about a child going outside to play and getting shot by a police officer. It’s a bold stand about racism and being black, which she talks about in her NPR interview. When she went to the Grand Ole Opry, she saw just two black people on the wall – Chuck Berry and Darius Rucker. She wants to join them.