BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Wild Bill Ricketts: John Dryden (Ricketts)

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Wild Bill Ricketts: New J
BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Wild Bill Ricketts: John Dryden (Ricketts)

Certainly not what you might expect: an outlaw reading the poems or plays of Dryden.

The Ricketts here is the percussion player (and songwriter) in the wonderful Phoenix Foundation (Dryden was an ancestor apparently) and here he coaxes various members of Trinity Roots, Opensouls, Fat Freddys and the Black Seeds to assist on an album of gently Pacific-flavoured songs which are gorgeously produced (attention to small sonic detail) and are wrapped around gentle melodies and charming vocals.

Opening with the acappella close-harmony Coconut Tree, this takes you straight to the fale and sets the mood in slightly unsettling lyrics before easing into the throbbing rhythm of New J with its tickling guitars and Pink Frost-meets-Stone Roses in Brian Wilson's studio on a Northland beach kind of feeling.

There's a childlike innocence to the six minutes-plus Siamese Dream (with mercurial, chiming guitars and sonic punctuation taking out the last half) but Jaw Bone which follows is moody noir piece which conjures up a misty midnight Parisian street. 

And so it goes: wit, intelligence, evocative music . . .

Albums by Phoenix Foundation and its solo offshoots (Luke Buda, Samuel Flynn Scott) have a perfect strike rate in the annual Best of Elsewhere lists.

This joins them in that esteemed company.

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