Graham Reid | | 1 min read
We missed this album when it was released last year because, if memory serves, we were felled by a long-Covid hangover and RSV. Getting up was hard enough, getting to the stereo and desk almost impossible.
But no matter because Australia-based Gillespie – a former Kiwi with a fine reputation as a singer-songwriter – is touring here in June.
So we're pleased now to be able to turn an ear to these nine songs which feature a number of other New Zealanders, among them guitarist Nigel Gavin, expat harmonica player Brendan Power, bassist Tony Waine (former Narc) and jazz saxophonist Rick Robertson who – like Gillespie – lit out from these shores back in the Eighties.
The Rob Grosser mentioned on the cover is a sought-after Australian drummer (Jimmy Barnes, Jon Lord and Ian Gillian of Deep Purple) who worked with Gillespie in a series of jams, the pair of them then honing them into songs over time.
It's a process which has worked (Gillespie more used to being the singer-songwriter turning up with complete pieces) because the gently rolling grooves which underpin many of these songs are quite seductive.
As a writer Gillespie has often invited a comparison with Leonard Cohen (naming your band/concept after a Cohen song will do that) but there's much more to him than that.
Anyone coming to this album cold however will hear favourable comparisons with downbeat Paul Kelly on Slow Down (with Power), the country-kissed Delusions (with Gavin) which eases close to solo Mark Knopfler (which is a compliment) and the almost spoken-word location-specific encounter with an old flame on Chapel Street.
Perhaps even on the more gritty Seconds with bassist Waine: “How long does it take for a fist to smash a skull? It takes seconds”.
The Knopfler connection is there on the danceable Papa Wemba (She Dances) and the similarly upbeat rhythms of Brick By Brick.
Although still in the singer-songwriter genre, Gillespie has stretched himself and pushed the boundaries here with the colour from his chiming guitar, the saxophone of Robertson on the almost eight minute, increasingly menacing Jealous Man (bleakly funny if your humour runs cold and black) and the popping Afro-sound of Papa Wemba (She Dances).
Lyrically these songs are also multi-layered and repay careful attention to their detail.
Wayne Gillespie has long been off the radar of most Kiwis but here is a reason to get back in touch and look forward to his tour.
Tour dates confirmed
Mt Eden Village 23 June
Leigh Sawmill 24th June
Nirvara Lounge Hamilton 25th June