Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Because we recently brought this group and this impressive debut album to attention this will be brief, just to say that this professional five-piece from Waiheke Island deserve your serious attention.
First let's state what is blindingly obvious from the opener Flint and Steel: this band of singer Meredith Wilkie, Kyla Dyresen (keyboards), bassist Dione Denize, guitarist/saxophonist Julion Wright and drummer Simon McDowell can really play the guts out of these tough, soulful songs penned by Wilkie and Dyresen.
Second is that Wilkie is a powerhouse vocalist who has a mainline to rock'n'soul with a blues edge.
And finally that while the album title might suggest a bunch of folksy, fireside songs about the neighbours, that isn't what is here.
Leave Him is a clenched fist but supportive message to a woman being put through crap by the man in her life and telling her not to settle for less (“he's a baby”). It also comes with funky Elton piano by Dyresen.
Lothario nails a local roué musician who controls the many women in his life he burns through. (You'd not like to be the subject of such songs, they are withering).
There is a lot of assertion and even anger here: calling out a Scaredy Cat, the slinky urban blues of someone who is volatile, “spring loaded and ready to pop . . . a volcano rumbling from below . . . a molotov lobbed into a liquor store”.
But elsewhere the singer – perhaps adopting a persona – lets the bad lover into her life and is prepared to stick it out (Insomniac).
And Pick Me Up is much more conciliatory.
Yes, maybe these sound like Seventies pop-rock with soul (there's a ballad at the end with a high-powered guitar solo) and there are some lyrics which don't quite work. (“Your moods are like a scalding cup of tea” in Volatile undercuts the more brutal imagery elsewhere).
But when faced with these songs and the accomplished band (Wright's guitar has some real hard-rock sting when required), it's hard to deny that this is as fine a debut by a mature local band as you likely to hear.
And although you might want the Rocky Bay Midnights to be more selective about those in their circle, Wilkie sings the bejeezus out of these songs.
You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here