I’ve been wanting to review this one for a while, but have been put off by the assorted ra-ra cheerleading that’s been happening on the radio. In case you’re the only person in New Zealand who hasn’t heard of the album, it’s a collaboration between a number of notable Wellington musicians, and well worth the cover price.
As I say, I’ve been wanting to talk about it, and have only been finally prompted to because the first song on the album, Hey You (sung by Jess Chambers) happens to be Chef Du Plunge’s favourite song. I pop him up in his wee bouncinette, possibly the best invention in child-care, ever, and sing along flat and out of key. CDP obliges by smiling and saying “aaa-gooo” a lot, with the occasional squeal. And only to this song, which is nice.
The Woolshed Sessions has been on high rotation here at the Dart launching pad since before Christmas, and if I had to review it in only two words? Those words would be ‘perfect diction”. Most of the singers, excepting Age Pryor and his distinctive lisp, seem to have been schooled far, far from dirty, dirty rock and roll, and pronounce all their words very carefully. Problematically, once I realised this I listened to the album just to try hearing someone use bad grammar… But they seem not to, even when one would normally slip a word in to balance out an otherwise questionable rhyme.
This non-criticism aside, the album has the feel of all great retreat albums, such as Rumours (but without the infighting and angst), where the album itself is insular and unpacked out of the feel of the retreat itself. You can feel how the writers have explored their own backgrounds, concerns, and roots to pull together songs that reflect not only the place they’ve recorded, a woolshed converted to bach in Golden Bay, but the effects of that place on their understanding of themselves.
The result is a set of extremely poignant songs huddled among ideas seemingly brought out of Wellington and aired. Consequently you have what I’m assuming is such a song in the form of Waterfall adjacent to Stringing Me Along, the former of which has the feel of the country about it, while the latter is what I can only describe as ‘Parisian’ (actually a few of the songs have that feel, kind of ‘jaunty’).
In a way, the album very much reveals an ethos you can only describe as hippy, examples being Sun Song and I’d Take You With Me with a blend of alt.country and bluegrass mixed in with more exotic noises. Such as the nose flutes, which you really should listen for.