Paddy Burgin and the Wooden Box Band: My Sweet Town (PB)

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Paddy Burgin and Wooden Box Band: The Big Parade
Paddy Burgin and the Wooden Box Band: My Sweet Town (PB)

Internationally successful guitar maker by day and guitarist by night, Wellington's Paddy Burgin last year got this very classy package which comes with a beautifully presented booklet of lyrics and a tie-in DVD by film-maker Costa Botes, the man behind the excellent film of the Windy City Strugglers, the up-close and personal footage of Nigel Gavin in his A Job with the Circus DVD, and the live film which accompanied Dave Murphy's Yes, That's Me CD/DVD package.

Burgin is equally deserving of such attention as this album -- gentle but probing lyrics delivered somewhere between James Taylor, Ry Cooder and less cynical Loudon Wainwright -- is an understated gem.

His guitar playing is revelatory: with ease he traverses blues, folk, slide, suggestions of Hawaiian sounds and old time jazz, touches of country . . . .

While many will find the four instrumentals intelligently placed throughout as the highpoints (notably the lovely Waikawa, or the late Davy Graham-like Wigtoft), there is also an interesting (and in the local singer-songwriter world, rare) depth to these lyrics.

The folksy Four Corners with its almost archaic language is based on letters between Sir Apirana Ngata and AH Reed in the Forties; and while Evelyn could be read as to a lost lover it is in fact a lyrically refined and lightly metaphorical tribute to the painter Evelyn Page. The Anglo-folk styled title track says more about the social and emotional cost of so-called "property developers" and their rapaciousness than any worthy Historic Places Trust report.

Willie Nelson could do worse than cover the languid but deep The Big Parade, it sounds written for him and Burgin delivers it in a manner akin to Nelson's behind-the-beat and deceptively lazy-sounding style. 

Assisting Burgin is a classy and sympathetic band (guitarist and banjo player Justin Clarke tours with Age Pryor, double bassist Tom Callwood is in Little Bushmen) which sometimes keeps its distance and simply interpolates telling saxophone, banjo or viola parts.

It appears here somewhat belatedly (I only just received it) but it is timeless, tasteful, intelligent and rewarding. It should travel far.

 

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Ruairidh Morrison - Feb 18, 2009

Nice to read a review by someone who has clearly listened to the subject matter more than once

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