Song of the Week – Shine Like the Sun

Shine Like the Sun – Thomas Oliver

I have been waiting for the release of this song for months and months now! I first heard it during Pass The Gat performances at the Taranaki Arts Festival and WOMAD. Played acoustically live it brought tears to my eyes – and now the released version has had the same affect.

Thomas Oliver is a super talented Kiwi musician with an array of talents and this first taste from his album due out in April (and paid for all by crowd funding) is a sign he’s perfected his true sound as a solo artist.

He first burst into the scene years ago with the Thomas Oliver Band who played a foot stomping style of folk music. Following that he showcased his incredible weissenborn playing skills on Beneath the Weissenborn.

Both of these sounds were fantastic and much loved by the people who discovered them, but Shine Like the Sun is more mature and accessible for listeners. The blues style riffs add some grunt to the gentle track, his falsetto shines in the chorus, and those lyrics? Romantic as hell!

I think Oliver is onto a winner with this touching ballad.

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Three hip hop albums you’re stupid not to be listening to:

I keep going to write a blog for a song of the week but over the last couple of months I just can’t chose one, because I have too many options!

So I’ve decided to write this post instead, because three hip hop albums have been dominating my listening as of late. I’m sure many of you are already fans of at least one of these artists, but if you’re not – it’s time you chucked these talented musicians on your playlist.

  1. Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!

The third studio album from Childish Gambino (Real name Donald Glover – also an actor who plays my favourite character in TV sitcom Community), Awaken, My Love!, has a more soulful style than his previous works. The artist has moved on from a rap focus and embraced his voice. I liked the old stuff, but this I love!! Each song has a funky base line and melody but the vocals are jazzed up in each different track too – it’s amazing what this man can do with his voice. Must listen tracks are Redbone, California and Stand Tall.

  1. Anderson .Paak – Malibu

This California man, born Brandon Paak Anderson, initally started producing music under the name Breezey Lovejoy – I’m glad he reverted to his current moniker. I never knew of Breezey’s work but thanks to the album Malibu, I’ll never forget Anderson .Paak. This is one hell of a record from the groover, its GRAMMY nomination for best urban contemporary album is testament to that. Each track on this album is upbeat and catchy, a smooth mix of soulful vocals and light rap makes for easy listening, but if you want to delve deeper into the tracks there is a lot to them. This is a record you won’t tire of quickly – having 16 songs on offer also helps on that front- impressive! The Bird, Put Me Thru, Celebrate and Am I Wrong are the stand outs for me.

  1. Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book

He just smashed it at the GRAMMYs – he snapped up the best new artist prize as well as best rap album, and that’s a mean feat for an artist who only released his album via streaming. What a step forward for the music industry! But the reason Chance won is because he’s brilliant. With shades of Common and Kendrick Lamar, anyone who didn’t know of him before the GRAMMYs will certainly be a fan after seeing his compelling performance. I couldn’t take my eyes of the screen and have been watching it on repeat. Coloring Book, featuring an impressive array of collaborators such as Justin Bieber, Anderson .Paak and Kanye West, makes for compelling listening and I keep going back for more. His gospel take on rap music is powerful as heck but also funky as hell. Give it a crack and start with tracks No Problem, All We Got, Blessings, Same Drugs.

Concert Review: James Taylor

How sweet it is, to be a crowd member at a James Taylor concert.

Last night I headed along with other picnic basket carrying fans and settled in on the grass in the glorious Napier sunshine for a stunning night at Church Road Winery. What a setting! You couldn’t ask for a much dreamier spot or day to hear the dulcet tones of this American music superstar.

I don’t say superstar lightly, he is one of the most humble and gracious performers I’ve ever witnessed, yet he still has this insane star quality. We were mesmerised by his passionate storytelling and loved the pride with which he introduced each band member and rattled off their talents (of which I can confirm they had many –what an outstanding array of artists!).

Songs took on new meaning as they were preceded with tales of encounters with the Beatles and song swapping sessions with Carole King. Taylor acknowledged that the first time he played You’ve Got a Friend he never imagined he’d end up playing it every day for the rest of his life – but he was quick to say that that was in no way a bad thing! Amen to that – what a magic song it is and he brought it to life wonderfully last night, the crowd sang every word with their arms wrapped tightly round their mates, it was a real highlight.

This was one of many songs we were treated to in this concert of hit, after hit, after hit. We got all the goodies as well as the odd new song thrown in and it flowed perfectly. New tracks like Today, Today, Today truly stood up against the rest and showed he’s still a current artist with plenty more to give. My favourites were Copperline, Shower the People, Sweet Baby James and Country Road, each was played and sung with stunning ability and made everyone sit up a listen.

This is one of those concerts you think back about the next day and realise you’re bloody lucky you’ve witnessed such a musical genius at work. James Taylor still has full control of his lullaby voice and picks those guitar strings with lightning speed. My only criticism was finishing on a song which wasn’t a singalong, it left me thinking ‘that can’t be it?’ I felt certain there was a little more left in the tank. Perhaps playing Something in the Way She Moves, would have been a better choice given it seemed to be the only song people were whispering afterwards that they were sad not to hear.

But when I think about it – maybe my one minor complaint is created only because I didn’t want what was an epic show to end.

A+ work from you James Taylor – what a night!