Karen Hunter: Inside Outside (Rawfishsalad)

 |   |  1 min read

Karen Hunter: Little by Little
Karen Hunter: Inside Outside (Rawfishsalad)

As a performer, Auckland singer-songwriter Hunter is one of the most assured we've got. She shifts effortlessly from acoustic cafe to the festival circuit in Canada, bars in Australia and thinks nothing of strapping on the Telecaster for nuggety rock gigs.

You can take the girl out of the metal but ...

After her excellent Private Life of Clowns of '98 -- which covered all the above bases plus spoken word, subtle jazz influences and a cappella -- it seemed her time had come.

Despite that remarkable album and years before that hosting the Raw Fish Salad nights for women performers at the Java Jive, she remains a figure on the margins. This double disc might not change that - it lacks the distilled intensity of Clowns - but as a calling card it is impressive. There is one disc of solo performances and one with the band (both are recorded live), which comes with two videos on the second.

Hunter has one of the most sensual voices in the country - full of swoops and power - and she addresses sex and sensuality with refreshing passion. She's also a dynamite guitarist: check out her acoustic work on Love's Good Eye, full of chimes and stops, or the physical instrumental Kokee.

These are largely new songs and some are outstanding: the lean narrative-into-metaphor of Shadows, the atmospheric Washing which invokes the fear-inducing power of our wilder coastlines.

The band disc confirms Hunter's love for a power chord and a bit of 70s Westie rock - she delivers up a gritty version of her throat-thumping Go (on Clowns), spins off some radio-friendly intense pop (Confess), and hunkers down on loose-limbed rhythms for the eco-aware Sparkle and the Pacific reggae on Little by Little.

Her lyrical worthiness and social conscience sometimes let her down. For example, the laboured Money on both discs reminds the Government and Business Roundtable et al that money doesn't rule the world. (Actually it does - their world.)

But if Hunter has somehow slipped past you, check this out, there's much to be impressed by. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Tweed: High-Brow Blues (Southbound)

Tweed: High-Brow Blues (Southbound)

Although this Auckland-based trio bill themselves as alternative-folk, grey-haired Anglofolk followers will hear in them something which was once mainstream acoutsic folk, back in the days when... > Read more

Arbouretum: Song of the Pearl (Thrill Jockey)

Arbouretum: Song of the Pearl (Thrill Jockey)

Although this album was released almost a year ago Stateside it has only just appeared here -- but its collision of electric Neil Young, heavy strum Anglofolk and indie.rock should see it find a... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Annie Ross: Twisted (1952)

Annie Ross: Twisted (1952)

Annie Ross -- who at the time of this writing is still alive and 82 -- had an extraordinary career for a kid born Annabelle Short into a family of vaudevillians in London. When she was four, the... > Read more

John Mayall: Tough (Eagle)

John Mayall: Tough (Eagle)

Given this seminal blueman's low profile in the marketplace this past decade or two, it can only be his impending New Zealand tour which has seen the Antipodean release of this, his 57th, album.... > Read more