23 Feb 2020
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Craig Payne - Album Review: Making History

02 Jul 2019 // A review by Steve Shyu

Christchurch-based singer-songwriter Craig Payne is ready to make history.

No kidding, the new album is proudly titled Making History, and it’s loaded, aimed high, and if the title is anything to go by, it should burn an unmissable trail across the sky that is New Zealand music. Or even better - global music markets. With two full albums and a healthy-sized list of singles under his belt, Craig is not slowing down, nor backing away from the next logical step in his musical career.

So just how far and bright does Craig’s fourteen-track rock n’ roll projectile go?

Right from the first minute, it’s clear that Craig’s influences come directly from classic 1960’s bands. Its folk-tinged, Simon & Garfunkel dual-vocals eases you into the album and sets the tone and lays out the blueprint for the tunes ahead. The unpolished, slightly-raw sounds then add to the old-school character and appeal, plus a hint of psychedelia presented by the guitars.

Craig’s true strength can be found in the blues-oriented rock numbers such as Double Me Double You and Love Songs, packing a youthful energy and sounding positively summery, the sort of music that my young mind imagined an outdoors rock festival in ‘79 would sound like. There’s even the dancey and aptly-titled Rock and Roll that one should definitely stop by.

There are clear nods to the good ol’ days when rock was in its stages of infancy; everything from the Beatles-like songwriting, country-blues basslines, the psychedelic guitar playing and even the production are all done with the “good old-fashioned” in mind.

My personal highlight is the groovy Colour Me Up, with a delightful walking-pace bassline, and a couple of great guitar licks near the middle, all adding up to make a great throwback to 70’s psychedelic blues-rock. Before you’re completely lulled into thinking this was penned some forty years ago, the lyrics “Send me a text, or an email, I’ll leave it up to you, any communication’s fine as long as it’s from you” bring you back into the present day – It’s nice, light fun.

The pacing of the album is also well-plotted; slow numbers like Starshine or the McCartney-waltz (as I started calling it) Through This Shadow counter-balances the more energetic and rock n’ roll numbers. What was also interesting to note is the variety of vocal effects used, from distant-and-spaced-out to clear-and-dead-centre-of-the-mix.

The album does a tremendous job of sonically emulating the styles of the 60’s and 70’s, replicating songwriting, lyrics and effects. Many practically sound like they were lifted out of The Kinks’ back-catalogue, rinsed in The Beatles and dusted over with a little early-Bowie.

With that said, the album doesn’t so much “make” history as it does “recreate” it and does a fantastic job of it. Here, Craig sounds comfortable and confident, covering familiar territory, and honing in more on songwriting than exploring outside his spheres. It seemed fitting then, that the chorus of the namesake opener sings, “I guess we all are makin’ history, no matter what we do”, musing, perhaps, that by revisiting the past, we’re also creating history... Whoah...

If you’re into early rock and popular music from 1960’s and 1970’s, make sure you give this album a listen-through.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

Releases

One Night Stand
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Good News
Year: 2018
Type: Album

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