Color Theory is Brian Hazard. Brian Hazard has done something that makes me rather happy. He's the first person I've heard in years that fills the void left by the disappearance of Shellyann Orphan and Suddenly, Tammy!, two bands who made lovely, intelligent and sad piano-based jazz-pop that had lovely splashes of strings and other yummy things. Sadly, both bands disappeared without a trace, leaving behind a few excellent records that can be found easily in most bargain-bins and used sections.
Let's hope that Color Theory doesn't suffer the same fate. Their most recent album, Something Beautiful, couldn't possibly be better titled. Hazard makes simple, sad songs with a lush background. I'd like to thank him for going this route, because the world really could use a whole lot more piano-based singer/songwriters. I'm just impressed that people take the time to make music like this anymore. In a music world that's becoming increasingly reliant on hype over substance and style over talent, the fact that Hazard has shunned that aspect of 'the business' makes Something Beautiful even more rewarding.
Really, though, how could you go wrong with the simple, subtle beauty of songs like "Alpha Centauri" and "Perfection," or the e.e. cummings inspired "Realist?" You can't. I can tell that Hazard really has a gift for songwriting, and that's a reward right there for you. The only word of warning that should be given, though, is that occasionally the lyrics---like "This is something I have to do/Maybe not thought-provoking/But it's just what I promised you/And you thought I was joking" (from "And You Thought I Was Joking)--can be a bit winsome. It's not a serious problem, but it can be off-putting, especially if you're not in the mood.
It's great to know that piano-based music isn't strictly confined to people wanting to be the next Elton John, Billy Joel, or Ben Folds, and Brian Hazard certainly doesn't seem to have such less-than-grand aspirations. Something Beautiful is, in fact, something beautiful. It's great music for a romantic dinner; would probably make great soundtrack music, and is just a pleasure to listen to. What greater expectation could you possibly want?