The album features 13 originals and a Pacific-style cover version of 'Secret Love', the song made famous by Doris Day. The melodies are catchy, rangey and surprising. The arrangements are tasteful and organic, showcasing Hinemoana's extraordinary voice.
Hinemoana produced 'puawai' herself with the help of Robbie Duncan at Wellington's Braeburn Studios. It's her first full-length album and her first with Jayrem Records. It's also the first in which her many 'languages' are explored - from te reo Māori to the language of poetry. Several of the songs on the album move freely in and out of spoken-word.
The songs range in subject matter from light to dark and most shades in between ('...a bit like my relatives...'). They feature local and international contributions from musicians in Aotearoa, California and Melbourne. Drummer Richard Te One (Te Āti Awa), who plays regularly with Wayne Mason, lifts 'Free' and 'Motel' into the country-rock realm, then later lays a moody, spacious foundation for the love-ballad 'Missing You'. Hinemoana's cousin, guitarist Dale Cooper (Taranaki) creates an almost bluegrass road-trip reverie in 'Long Time Coming Home'. Andrew London's ukulele-esque guitar treatment accompanies a surprising and sweet final note to the album - Hinemoana's version of the Doris Day classic 'Secret Love' .
The New Zealand Herald says:
'Baker's enticing, folk-based music walks the line between Joni Mitchell in its melody-bending and entrancing vibrato, and Bic Runga in its elemental elegance. But it also has the added depth of her Maori heritage in the occasional use of te reo and the waiata tradition.
With slippery bass, lap steel, djembe drum, cello and traditional Maori instruments used discreetly, this diverse collection runs from a cappella to full-bodied folk and spoken word pieces over picked acoustic guitar.
Baker sings of the power of nature in a way which is heartfelt but never cloyingly sentimental, of the fires of love which both warm and sear the heart, and of her heritage.'
Two 'cellists, Francesca Mountfort (from Wellington gypsy ensemble 'Carousel') and Emily Insolio Corwin (California), add romance and grit. Robbie Duncan creates a sweeping electric guitar summer-scape in 'Blue Sky'. Along with the odd cicada, some languid lap-steel from Matthew Leonard and the husky blues-vocals of Tyree Robertson (Clan Donnachaidh, Yugoslav), the album is a rich collaboration.
Listen to 'puāwai'
NOTE: Use this store if you're in New Zealand. Postage is free for all NZ orders. For international orders, please visit Victoria University Press or Jayrem Records or buy Hinemoana's music on iTunes.