Various Artists: She Sings And Plays (Jayrem)

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Turiiya: Thread of Gold
Various Artists: She Sings And Plays (Jayrem)

This 20-track collection of women artists on the Jayrem label -- a loosely chronological run from Naked Spots Dance in '83 to Donna Muir of last year -- is released as one of package of seven albums to coincide with the 35th anniversary of this interesting and diverse New Zealand indie label.

It is not just a useful retrospective but also allows us to hear the synth-heavy post-punk Eighties again (NSDance, Putty In Her Hands, Freudian Slips) when it was hooked to feminist perspectives of the time ("go play battleships, go blow your self to bits" by the FSlips on the funk-stacatto Don't Look Up), singers who would go on to higher profiles (Jan Hellriegel in Cassandra's Ears, the ethereal Jyoshna Latrobe in Turiiya) as well as some of the poets Jayrem gave voice to (Jenny Bornholdt, Michele Leggot).

Here too are the late Mahinarangi Tocker (When I Grow Up from her Hei Ha! album of 2002), Shona Laing (My Love Be Still) and When the Cat's Been Spayed (and the Cat's Charlotte Yates under her own name on Red Letter from the '90 album Queen Charlotte Sounds)

Jan Preston's Tango is a short piano piece (you will want to here more), and there will doubtless be names which may well have gone right past many.

Jane Devine is impressive on the APRA-nominated Killing Time which has a disconcertingly European feel (her life was cut short wthin weeks of the release of her Out of View album). Equally interesting is the Maori funk of Tuahine (Erana and Tiekewhare Hemmingsen and others, including what became Wai on backing vocals).

And there is Jordan Reyne's Karlsruhe from her Passenger album which was one of Rip It Up's 10 best albums of 2004, saw her a finalist in the best female artist category at the New Zealand Music Awards and was, according to cover notes here, described by me as "music and lyrics of dislocation . . . extraordinary". And it still is. Passenger is an excellent album.

And there is more here.

As an overview of Jayrem's women artists this is a fine indication of the diversity of talent -- from pop to poetry, from Reyne in Germany to Big Belly Woman in Ruatoki -- the label gave a home to.

And should send you searching for some of the original albums.

Like the sound of this? Check out Jayrem's story here.

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