The Golden Age
Is this a golden age for New Zealand's alternative/country/folk/rock scene? (Yes, that's a mouthful of genres but it seems to sum the music up nicely).
Great North's latest release The Golden Age would suggest so.
Following impressive albums this year by The Miltones and The Bads, this piece of rustic rock brings a slice of Americana pie with a strongly Kiwi flavour (one wag suggested the tag "Kiwicana").
The now London-based husband and wife duo Hayden and Rachel Donnell combine intensely personal lyrics, warm vocal harmonies and a range of instrumentation including brass and harmonica that blows in like an old friend.
And nostalgia is a major theme on this album. "Remember how we used to listen, Dancing in the Dark," sings Rachel Donnell on Until The Roads Run Out, giving a nod to Springsteen, a clear influence on Great North's sound.
Even the similarity between Hayden Donnell's singing voice and that of Kiwi icon Don McGlashan evokes warm, fuzzy memories.
But while the album's themes of loss and regret, in part owing to the death of friend Sam Prebble in 2014, lend a cloud of melancholy to proceedings, tracks like the upbeat Better Days suggest there may be a bright future just around the corner.
Maybe the golden age is lost to the past, or maybe it's just in front of us.
Rating: 5/5 stars