Elsewhere by Graham Reid

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Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

Delgirl: Porchlight (Yellow Eye)

Delgirl: Stars
Delgirl: Porchlight (Yellow Eye)

This trio from Dunedin impressed on their debut album two, maybe three, days ride which saw them nominated for a Tui award and, as I noted at that time, it was a real step up from their first EP.

This even better album -- 15 tracks -- confirms what I have always believed, the more you work (ie play, perform and record) the chances are the better you will get. There is a musical maturity here in the arrangments for voices, and the acoustic instruments which include double bass, ukuleles, banjo, simple drums, guitars and the like.

Working an area which is not quite alt.folk or alt.country but has elements of both (alongside touches of gospel vocals on the disturbing Sister, Mother, and a smidgen of folk-blues throughout), Delgirl have created their own musical space.

One Long Day (over banjo) is a subtle and refined lyric about the end of a failed relationship which gets added poignancy when the lonely trumpet comes in; the lovely Take Me to The Railway has a melancholy yet optimistic feel (and some neatly forceful musical undercurrents); there's solid and gutsy quality to the tough minded Sippin' Blues; and the delightful Waiting ("I was hoping you'd come to save me . . .but you didn't seem to know the way to find me") should be a summertime hit at dusk while you watch the sun set into the ocean. 

The rather plodding She Cried is repetitive in the manner of many traditional Anglofolk songs. Did nothing for me, and at great length. 

Perhaps living where they do explains the images of Nature which are everywhere here: there is barely a lyric which doesn't mention the moon, the sea, the stars, the tide or a field and so on. And that will mean for some they broadcast on a narrow frequency, we might say.

But the sympathetic production (Nick Bollinger), the quiet diversity of the material (the slight Pasifika feel to lightly risque Honey, the pure pop of Stars which lifts a phrase from the Beatles for their own ends) and the beauty of these voices in harmony or counterpoint effortlessly lift this into the frontline of the finest local albums in a very good year. There is power in simplicity.

Delgirl are touring this album (see here for dates) and on the evidence of Porchlight I suspect that on the night they will be very special indeed.

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