Charlotte Yates; Archipelago (Universal)

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Charlotte Yates: End of the Tunnel
Charlotte Yates; Archipelago (Universal)

For over a decade Wellington's Charlotte Yates put her energy into setting words by James K Baxter, Hone Tuwhare and Witi Ihimaera to music by all-star casts, but only managed two albums of her own, the last being the somewhat spare Beggar's Choice five years ago.

Here however, across 12 originals, she invites in strings, flute and piano, embraces electronic touches from multi-instrumentalist and co-producer Gil Eva Craig, and has guests Jeff Henderson (sax), Darren Mathiassen (from Shapeshifter on percussion), Tom Callwood (Phoenix Foundation, double bass) and Greg Johnson (trumpet).

Craig bring light electro-funk (Think It Through) and the remix of Yates' Mad off Tuwhare.

All this adds musical texture and colour to Yates' understated, crafted songs which invite the word “sophisticated” on the gently swinging, beautifully arranged Falling Down and pastoral folk of Surely the Sun, but which also gets tough-minded (Stains on Your Heart which opens “all the lies and levelling”).

This is thoughtfully adult (Before the Blue Begins speaks about after the kids are in bed, the ballad Hold Your Heart is about loving support when life gets rocky), the arrangements are sympathetic to the poetic lyrics, and Yates' melodic voice is mature and assured.

Archipelago rewards repeat-play.

Charlotte Yates answers our Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire here.

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