Stewart Allan: 9 Rooms (Rattle/digital outlets)

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Chasing Stars in Paradise
Stewart Allan: 9 Rooms (Rattle/digital outlets)

Rattle Records – known for its jazz, contemporary classical music, taonga puoro recordings and some very left-field albums like Ferocious – has launched yet another edgy imprint: Seventh House, alongside its reissue of avant-garde music on Echo.

So if you thought you could expect the unexpected from Rattle this album might surprise you even further, knowing what we thought knew: 9 Rooms is an unexpectedly adult pop-rock song collection.

Stewart Allan was a promising young singer in New Zealand many decades ago but, to the best of my knowledge, we lost him to Australia.

He's back it seems and this album of sophisticated and thoughtful songs – couched in lovely atmospherics and arrangements by producer Ari Liberman and Allan – has subtle elements from world music which means it will doubtless appeal to Sting/Peter Gabriel listeners.

Allan casts his eyes widely with images from the global landscape (Rocks Against Bullets, New Missile with “one single missile punches a hole in the clouds”) yet these songs also speak of love (spiritual and in a relationship) with allusions to the redemptive power of faith in the divided 21stcentury world we are given, even when it isn't the one we would want.

Not an album you'd expect from Rattle, but if it's a pointer into a new direction from the label into mainstream music it's certainly an accomplished and promising start.

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You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here.


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