Charlotte Yates: Then the Stars Start Singing (charlotteyates.com)

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Where Have You Gone
Charlotte Yates: Then the Stars Start Singing (charlotteyates.com)

Many musicians must be plagued with self-doubt when putting their music into the world, but spare a sympathetic thought for Charlotte Yates because for many years she was offering songwriting advice in the pages of NZ Musician magazine (now online here).

So you could imagine her trepidation at being judged on the release of this album, but Yates – who was also prime mover behind the musical settings of works by Hone Tuwhare, James K Baxter and Witi Ihimaera – is as good as the advice she offered, a classy songwriter who parlays songs of nerve-end intimacy (the frayed relationship on Caroline here) or effortlessly resets a Katherine Mansfield poem The Awakening River into a gently funked sliver of songwriter/electronica and locates a chorus in the poem.

That electronica provides the bed for the slippery and seductive title track among others. Yates invites the listener in with small detail and a sense that these considered words are happening in the immediate present although located in the past (Back for More).

Not everything works quite so well (Stowaway and Jennifer strain their metaphors a little).

But Yates and her fellow travellers edge this easily from personal folk-rock (the lightlydelic Headwinds with electronica beats provided by 50Hz aka Jeremy Geor, the gently aching Where Have You Gone about a relationship which feels like it has run its course) into songs with more musical bite.

And the last of these 12 songs, The Light is Unreliable, is a real gem with an understated adult sensibility.

For more on Charlotte Yates at Elsewhere start here

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