Ballad of the Band That Sounds Like Coldplay

Burning in the Sun (Island Records)

Blue Merle

By Kory Wilcoxson

You remember that rock that looked just like Abraham Lincoln? That rock never stood a chance at becoming its own rock. It would never be known for what it really was. It is destined to be the Abraham Lincoln rock.

If Coldplay never existed, Blue Merle would be a sensation. The throaty vocals, the lush sound - it's a musical revolution waiting to happen. Except it's already happened and Chris Martin was the grand marshal.

Following his lead are bands like Blue Merle. It's not Luke Reynolds' fault that he sounds so much like Martin. He's not trying to alter his voice into an imitation; he just has the bad fortune of being a dead ringer for Mr. Gwenyth Paltrow.

Comparisons aside, Burning in the Sun is a better than average album. The band is obviously quite talented and they're courageous enough to mix in some innovation instrumentation like mandolin and fiddle (which invites yet another comparison, this time to Dave Matthews). The title song has a great hook to it and songs like "If I Could" and "Stay" don't fade away too quickly.

But this album could feature Frank Sinatra and Kate Smith on backing vocals and you still wouldn't be able to get past the Coldplay comparison. Blue Merle doesn't deserve to be dismissed as a tribute band, but they have their work cut out for them if they want to be known as anything other than The Band That Sounds Like Coldplay.