Bruno Major’s third studio album, Columbo, finds the soulful singer-songwriter in typical self-searching form, evaluating his place in the world over subtly intricate instrumentation. Diverging from the minimalist R&B of his 2017 debut, A Song for Every Moon, and 2020’s To Let a Good Thing Die, Columbo is a decidedly more mellow offering—an eclectic collection of pop-jazz fusion tracks where the introversion of his compositions reflects the circumspect nature of his lyrics. Major’s soft, resonant vocals and gentle, lilting melodies metaphorically invite his audience closer, staging a triumphant end scene in the first verse of album opener “The Show Must Go On” before letting the curtain drop to reveal a battered protagonist staggering to his feet in the face of emotional defeat. The nostalgic distortion of “When Can We Be” transmits Major’s feelings on a missed connection as though playing through time on a vintage radio, while the title track’s sweet, cascading guitar provides an anchor for his wistful reminiscing. Elsewhere, “18” and “Tears in Rain (For Granny)” present two separate reflections on grief: one a warm, acoustic requiem for living a full life in tribute to a life never fully lived, the other to all the little unanswered questions that echo in the void left behind after the loss of an outsize presence. Only the conspicuous funk riffs and accelerating percussion of “We Were Never Really Friends” seek to break out of the sequestered soundscape, Major pulling out of his rising intonations before they pass a point of no return, dropping back into quiet resignation in tune with the realization of the title. It’s an intimate listening experience, replicating the atmosphere of a close-quarters piano bar blanketed in a reverent hush, but Major’s ambition faces outward. Columbo is his most assured record yet.