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Great North - Up In Smoke Album Review

30 Apr 2014 // A review by Ria Loveder

I know you shouldn’t judge a band by its name or its album cover, but as soon as I saw the cover art and was graced with the name Great North, you could say something magical happened. I find Great North to be a beautiful title for a group. It brings images of the countryside, riding on the back of a horse, the sun setting in the distance and all round green lush nature loveliness! The album cover is a beautiful image of a bird in flight with a deep red coloured sun and mountain range in the background. I congratulate the artist and give them a hearty round of applause!

Great North, who were long-listed for a Silver Scroll and won Folk Album of the Year at the 2013 New Zealand Music Awards, have shown that they are an accomplished independent New Zealand act. So, when sitting down to listen to their album Up In Smoke, I was waiting to hear some beautiful music. I was not disappointed.

The first song of the album I Was Gold is a wonderful example of a song with minimal instrumentation. Lovely subtle harmonies and following the rhythm of what sounds like hands clapping it has a wonderful rhythm and one that would fit perfectly with a group of people sitting around a camp fire with the stars and moon high in the sky. A song that once I listened to it, I immediately put it on repeat.

The song that the album is named after Up in Smoke, tells the story about not having much luck in life, being frustrated when things don’t go your way and wondering when things will get better. It has a wonderful piano introduction that sets the mood of the song very well with the lyrics painting a sombre picture, “If you won’t give me a sign, I’ll stay in in here all night, and I’ll go up in smoke”.

Somebody Else’s Lord, is an absolutely beautiful song with such raw emotion, that honestly, it kind of chokes me up a little. To me, the song is about trying to follow your dreams, even when you feel like you have no chance of achieving them.

Casey Jones is again another beautiful example of a song with minimal instrumentation. A song about love and reaching for that special person, finally letting them know how you feel. The harmonies and use of harmonica create a whimsical and beautiful sounding song. The undertone of this song seems to be sadness, but also a sense of accepting the sad times and capturing the beauty and pain of life’s moments.

Omaha takes the tempo of the previous songs up a notch. It has a steady beat and guitar rhythm that creates a wonderful dynamic piece. As the song nears its end it picks up pace and starts increasing in volume, then suddenly stopping to nothing. It is a wonderfully vibrant song and very enjoyable to listen too.  

The last song on the album is titled The Sound Of The Sea, and is a beautiful finale. With a stunning piano melody accompanying the singing it is the kind of song that you can reminisce too. It is the ending to a story through-out the album of the hardships and difficulty in life, however this song is accepting and embracing them, acknowledging that with life, you are going to come across difficulties.

This album is beautifully written and I must congratulate front-man and songwriter Hayden Donnell in creating a beautiful sounding album that I can genially say, over the course of listening to it, has become one of my favourites. There is such raw emotion is this album and I can definitely tell people’s hearts and souls have gone into it. They have created music that is interesting to listen to and gets you thinking, and I thoroughly appreciate that.

Congratulations must also got out to the rest of the group and people who contributed musically to the album; Rachel Donnell, Dale Campbell, Strahan Cole, Ryan Attwood and Matthew Hutching. It is an absolute beautiful album, and to experience the rest of the incredible songs I suggest you get a copy when it becomes available on May 9th, 2014. I look forward to seeing them in concert and I am sure, nope, I know, it will be an incredible performance.

Up In Smoke
View Track Listing

About Great North

An alternative folk/country band.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Great North


The Golden Age
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Up In Smoke
Year: 2014
Type: Album
Year: 2012
Type: Album
Year: 2010
Type: Album
Year: 2009
Type: Album

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