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Grant Haua - Single Review: This Is The Place

03 Sep 2020 // A review by Kev Rowland
Grant Haua is probably best known for being half of the two-man blues roots band Swamp Thing, but in January 2019 he made the decision to leave the band after 9 years, countless tours and numerous acclaimed albums. He locked himself away with producer and engineer Tim Julian from Colour Field Studios for several months, with the end result being the album Awa Blues. But I am getting rather ahead of myself as that will not be available until the beginning of 2021, and what I am listening to is the debut single from that album, This Is The Place.


I have been reviewing music for more than 30 years and have estimated that during that time I have written more than two million words. When asked what makes me keep doing this week after week, month after month, my answer is always the same “there is so much great music out there if people are just prepared to look”. I have always felt that if I can play some small part in acting as a conduit then I need to do just that, and there are also times when I come across something which makes everything totally worthwhile and fulfilling. This is one of those times.

This is one man’s story, his connection to his family, to those who have gone before, to the land and where he lives. From the first seconds of acoustic guitar and the waiata I was absolutely hooked, and by the end of the song I felt transformed. I have been playing it for the last few days, but in preparation for this I played it back to back more than a dozen times, and it pulls at my heart each and every time. Although there is a band in the background they stay just there, apart from electric guitarist Fred Chapellier who provides the perfect solo and later harmonies: this is all about the words and Grant’s acoustic guitar. The vocals are wonderful, with a great combination of rough edge blues and smooth soul, and amazingly this was the first take! During that session Grant apparently kept getting flashbacks of his mother, father, children, old friends etc, and one can hear it in his voice as he is keeping it together, but the emotion is palpable. It is incredibly personal, so much so that in the superb video we see Grant with his children, his marae, and even his mother’s grave.

When this single was released a few weeks ago it went straight into the NZ blues chart at #1, and while I normally do not even look at charts as the “music” they contain is often factory produced pap, this is the real deal and being at that position is the only one which makes sense to me. If we think of much modern music having the soul and heart of a piece of plastic, this is rich Kauri heartwood with a depth and link to the land.

When asked about the forthcoming album, Grant said “I want the listeners to feel like they're guests in my home and like the songs, my home is pretty simple but it's warm, cozy and friendly. You don't have to take your shoes off when you come in and you just help yourself to anything. The kettles just boiled or there's a cold beer in the fridge. There's my Nan's world-famous stew on the stove top and fresh baked bread in the oven. So welcome. This is my place. Kia ora koutou.”

The only reason I am giving this single 5 *’s is because that is the site limit, but I so wish I could give it more. To me this is the finest song I have heard in a very, very long time.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Grant Haua

Grant Haua
Foreword:

Grant is a “salt of the earth” kind of guy. When we put together a bio for him he said “Nah man. I am a just a guy with a guitar. You need to tell the story straight”. So who better than to tell his story than the man himself - the following is Grants bio, straight from the horse’s mouth. - DF Records

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Grant Haua

Releases

Mana Blues
Year: 2023
Type: Album
Tahanga - Unplugged
Year: 2022
Type: Album

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