23 Jan 2021
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Compilation Review: Home Alone: Winter 2020

02 Jul 2020 // A review by Mike Alexander
Wellington boutique label Home Alone has developed an exceptional roster of artists since it announced itself to the world in 2006. And while the creative backbone of the label has always been the triumvirate of Timothy Blackman, who actually launched the label in Dunedin with his debut EP, Lake South and French For Rabbits' Brooke Singer, it has expanded its repertoire and reach with such as internationalists Helena Massey and Shenondoah Davis.


Winter 2020
is another exceptional showcase compilation, finishing off the slow whirl around the seasons, which began with the release of Summer in 2012. It features new and recent material and hoisted its flag with the first single Red Red Red, a beautifully tempered and intimately intense love song by Mystery Waitress, an alias of the uber-talented songwriter Tessa Dillon, which also features Olivia Campion and James Morgan.
The uniquely toned voice of Davis glides over a rolling piano melody on the second single Get Out, which billows into a lightly flourished orchestral setting with the vocal soaring to and fro, whisper thin, delicate and almost fragile.

What stands out so readily is the quality of the songwriting, which has always been Home Alone's forte. Fraser RossJackie is a mesmerising slowburner. Massey's Chinkara's Heart is ethereal with a chant-like tinge. Ida Lune's pristine voice is beautifully balanced on plucked and strung strings on Bittersweet. Dawn Diver's chug-along The Letter Part 1 is a tear-jerker, Glass Heart Choir's Affliction also pulls at the heart-strings but with a mixture of yearning and acceptance while Grawlixes Immortalised is a cleverly worded 'snapshot' of life seen through the lens of love and/or photography.

There's a touch of wit and wisdom in Blackman's Will It Always Be This Way, which name-checks Singer, who is seductively enticing on the dreamy toe tapper Middle Of The House, while South's History/Present glistens and shimmers with a contemporary lyrical reality check.

The most powerful and possibly perceptive lyric - "Don't talk to me about sadness/ It does not excuse our choices" - comes courtesy of WHIM's (the alter ego of Deanne Krieg) Mother Tongue, which has an alluring electronic lustre, piano and strings and, along with Mali Mali's sinuous Harlequin Bay Rushes and the skewed, haunted cabaret flush of AM Aeroplane's My Blue Heaven is one of the most interesting tracks in terms of musical structure.

There's definitely a gentle chill in the air on Winter 2020 but the kind that invites some quality contemplative time in front of a warm fire.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

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