Dominic Blaazer: The Lights of Te Atatu (vinyl/streaming services)

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Simple Love
Dominic Blaazer: The Lights of Te Atatu (vinyl/streaming services)

Auckland keyboard player/singer/guitarist Dominic Blaazer is perhaps best known for the excellent bands he has been in, among them Greg Fleming's Trains, a stint in the Chills in the mid Nineties and the hipster favourites The Peter Stuyvesant Hitlist.

But he was also in the power pop outfit Smoothy, was in the SJD band, has played with Don McGlashan and is currently in Ghost Town.

Then there were numberless sessions: Topp Twins to John Rowles, Nudie Suits to Dimmer, the Clean to Goldenhorse . . .

And we won't even go back to his days in London in the early Eighties when he was a few bands. One of which supported Pere Ubu's David Thomas and did a Peel session.

So if anyone deserves and album of their own it is Blaazer. But given that diversity what kind of album might it be?

The cover and title on the limited edition vinyl album (with a download code) are strong clues: something domestic and personal, piano at the centre of the frame and yet excellent arrangements for strings and horns on the 10 originals and co-writes.

There is a suggestion of Nick Lowe's thoughtful and measure delivery in Blaazer's vocals and in his refined lyrics, and perhaps even a hold-over from Greg Fleming's narrative and sometimes imagistic writing.

He makes those lights of Te Atatu seem magical and resonant, even though they are seen through heartbreak: “They shine for me, they look like diamonds through my tears and jewels on the sea . . .”

Blaazer's background ensures there is a crafted, pop sensibility in these (mostly) piano ballads about affairs of the heart (Simple Love is beautifully refined and understated piece) but he also skewers the promises, egos and pitfalls of the music industry/fame game (Gang Brawl which sounds almost Lennonesque) and offers a low and bluesy mood piece which ascends into a big hearted soulful ballad with sax (the five minute The Reason I Care which might have dropped off the soundtrack to an Eighties movie).

Sometimes the material (such as Nothing Lasts Forever) does sound grounded in early Eighties soft-rock by the likes of Bertie Higgins, Christopher Cross, Stephen Bishop.

Nothing wrong with the genre but it does have a high Teflon factor.

At its best – the title track, Baby What Can I Say, Simple Love, the gently haunting Sunday Morning – these are fine songs and in another lifetime, when artists would look for material rather than write their own, any number here would be picked up.

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