Jordan Reyne: How the Dead Live (www.jordanreyne.com)

 |   |  <1 min read

Jordan Reyne: The Brave
Jordan Reyne: How the Dead Live (www.jordanreyne.com)

I guess when Creative New Zealand were looking for someone to write music to raise awareness of the country's historical and cultural heritage they wouldn't have had a long list. Right at the top would have been Reyne anyway.

One of this country's most gifted, probing and intelligent writers, she delivered (if nothing else) the stunning Passenger album a few years ago based on her train journey in Germany.

Passengers is a dark, dense and gripping album, and the fact it was conceptual probably recommended her even more to the CNZ people: here she has written an equally dark, emotionally intense and musically arresting concept album about a woman Susannah Hawes who left England in 1874 to start life in the unforgiving and indifferent West Coast wilds on New Zealand.

The narrative is sketched in with economy -- Hawes' reflection on her tiny hometown of Gravesend, the journey, the metaphoric character History who resents being obliged to be attached to this insignificant figure, Susannah speaking to Death about History, her husband going to the Boer War . . .

And all this is delivered in lean poetry and electrifying folk-noir or doom-laden ballads driven by intense and taut guitars, and soundscapes of the kind Reyne deployed to such great effect on Passenger.

This is not an easy listen, but it is also an impressive achievement and the songs, while part of the concept, are also singular.

This is a rare one. 

Share It

Your Comments

Jeffrey Paparoa Holman - Oct 5, 2009

Hi Graham
Nice to see this one at last - the video has lyrics from an e e cummings poem, "Buffalo Bill's defunct...", which goes, "how do you like your blue-eyed boy now Mr Death?"

Keep 'em coming, cheers.
Jeffrey

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Dr John and the Lower 911: City That Care Forgot (Shock)

Dr John and the Lower 911: City That Care Forgot (Shock)

The good Doctor's voice can be an acquired taste and there is no doubt he lost many loyalists when he went schmaltzy and kinda boring in the late 80s/early 90s. It was almost as if he had run his... > Read more

Lydia Loveless: Real (Bloodshot/Southbound)

Lydia Loveless: Real (Bloodshot/Southbound)

Now onto her fifth album 25-year old Lydia Loveless (born Lydia Ankrom) draws a thread between brittle power pop, whatever passes for alt.country these days and classic guitar jangle with a... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Trade . . .Me? A story of failed entrepreneurialism

Trade . . .Me? A story of failed entrepreneurialism

The new poster boy for entrepreneurs is 26-year old Canadian Kyle MacDonald: he’s the guy who traded a red paperclip for a fish-shaped pen, then traded that for a doorknob, that for a... > Read more

And The Horse You Rode Into Town On

And The Horse You Rode Into Town On

It has been some time since I had hate mail, and while I can't say I miss it I always used to read the letters with interest and thought about what the people had to say. Then I chucked them away.... > Read more