Miss Black and the Light: Black Light (Ode)

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Miss Black and the Light: Don't Stop
Miss Black and the Light: Black Light (Ode)

It seems a shame the reggae-driven grooves are pushed right to the front end of this otherwise interesting album because that sound has become, as previously noted at Elsewhere, such a default position for so many New Zealand artists.

Miss Black (Ngapata Black, daughter of the great Whirimako Black) finds a real point of diference when she gets into a more soulful style (the steamy midnight mood of Don't Stop, Notice Me)  . . . but material like the reggae-riddum Chillin here has so much more going for it (matters of culture, spiritual homes and pride are addressed) that the lightweight groove undermines the message.

I Think I kicks along neatly over a ska rhythm which mixes things up and is a highly addictive slice of soul-pop at the same time. 

And on So In Love -- which veers between intimate ballad and hard rock push -- she shows she can ride out a firestorm of rock guitars with confidence. Hush -- a real repeat play track -- has cool, subtle funk going on and again she brings something special in her delivery as she slips around the lyrics and rhythm, then cracks out "where were you when I needed you?" with contained rage.

And He Maimai Aroha at the end is just her vocal over a scratchy percussion and spare keyboards where the smart production makes her sound like an ancient voice reaching from a deeply spiritual waiata into this new century.

So get past the overly familiar reggae grooves and there are some seriously good songs and singing here. 

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