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Ria Hall - Album Review: Manawa Wera

27 Feb 2020 // A review by jacquiew

Ria Hall’s new collection of songs Manawa Wera is everything anyone could want from a new release.

Hall is without doubt one of Aotearoa’s finest female vocalists and her material is thought-provoking and moving without ever being strident or preachy.

Manawa Wera is immaculately produced by Laughton Kora.

It’s crisp, thoughtful and beautifully balanced in its delivery with star turns from an amazing collection of supporting musicians including Ara Adams-Tamatea (L.A.B.), Wiremu Barriball (Katchafire) and Zane Graham (Sons of Zion, The Wailers). Gorgeous guest horns are arranged and led by Warren Maxwell (TrinityRoots, Little Bushman) and backing vocals are provided by co-writer Laughton Kora, Troy Kingi and Rob Ruha. The sonic sum total of all that talent is as delicious as you might expect.

Hall’s voice is utterly clear and resonant throughout. The opening track History firmly roots the listener in their connection to the natural world and exhorts them to know their history through their connection to the earth and a deep sense of belonging. “My feet are fashioned from the earth, crafted from mud and stone and dirt. We wear our stories on our skin. I swear it’s where we must begin.”

The bass is deliciously prominent on the second track Cause and Effect. The second single from the album, Owner follows with a powerful message about how ownership is immaterial and that what really matters is our qualities, these being what we will solely be judged on in the end.

I particularly loved Chant. From its resonant humming in harmony opening to the end it fully supports Hall’s powerful and soaring vocal. Walk was also wonderful – a true foot tapper as its name might suggest.

Hall’s album is also graced with the beautiful artwork of Robyn Kahukiwa and this is a fitting and powerful visual representation of the themes that Manawa Wera explores; it’s elemental, rooted in female power, and with a distinct and independent point of view.

This is a marvellous recording. Revel in it and support this wonderful, talented artist.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Ria Hall

Ria Hall is an exciting new voice on the contemporary New Zealand music landscape. Creatively informed by west coast hip-hop, vintage reggae, classic soul, dancehall ragga and modern beat music, she presents a fresh and vibrant perspective as both a young Maori woman, and as a cutting edge, 21st century singer and artist.

Born in Tauranga, Ria spent time in Auckland and Australia, before settling in Wellington and really finding her musical feet. She co-formed and fronted the reggae band Hope Road, who, in performing at the Parihaka International Peace Festival and Wellington's Waitangi Day One Love event, won the respect of Aotearoa's elite roots, reggae and soul music communities. This led to her joining Hollie Smith's live ensemble, becoming part of Eru Dangerspiel's psychedelic explosion, and, latterly, performing backing vocals for the 2010 reunion shows of the iconic TrinityRoots.

Her profile has also been lifted significantly by her inspired performance at the opening ceremony of Rugby World Cup 2011 – a performance witnessed by a televised audience of millions.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Ria Hall


Manawa Wera
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Rules of Engagement
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Ria Hall EP
Year: 2011
Type: EP

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