Make a deal with yourself to listen to Coleus’ acoustic “Strangers”

Listening to acoustic “Strangers,” the new release from Connecticut folk-fusion artist Coleus, gives me the same thrill of discovery and delight as the long-ago day that I picked an early Simon & Garfunkel album from the used-record bin at a store in my college town.

“Strangers” is a coming-of-age song with a key lyric that hits hard – or rather, it’s two coming-of-age songs. The original, released last fall, is a cheerful pop jam that sits in a musical spot midway between Gavin DeGraw and Andy Grammar. It’s a song of self-discovery that feels like a sunny morning, so fresh and bright that I can almost smell the dew on city sidewalks.

Acoustic “Strangers” is the same journey as an intimate confession at dawn. Sparse, gentle guitar with doubled vocals hearkens to mid-1960s folk-pop, shifting the feel from youthful celebration to timeless wisdom.

This acoustic version of “Strangers” also pushes the wit of the lyrics into bolder relief. Lyrically, this song is fun in a way that brings a smile while it punches in the gut. The motif of trying to be a stranger especially hits hard: if you’ve ever struggled with imposter syndrome, there’s a lot to unpack here, and by just sitting with a guitar and singing frankly about it, the song does a lot of emotional work. I’m a fan of songs that inspire not by going rah-rah but by fully experiencing a troubling emotion with the listener, so this one is right in my wheelhouse.

The way “Strangers” experiences the shift from imposter to authenticity is right on target lyrically—it has that I am very charming at deflecting through self-deprecating humor feel that gets many an imposter through the day. And yet, the lyrics don’t actually deflect. They speak truth. “Don’t you see, I’ve been hiding, playing myself as a mannequin? I’ve been wearing all black in the dark” is a zinger for how it gets the connections among trying to be acceptable, innocuous, and invisible.

Listen to Coleus’ acoustic “Strangers” for a witty, gently encouraging journey to self-acceptance, with the timeless feel of early folk-pop.

I got an early listen in exchange for a fair and honest review. I write only about music I like because life’s too short to gripe about music I don’t like.

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