4 Dec 2020
UsernamePassword

Remember Me? | Join | Recover
Click here to sign in via social networking

Lou'ana - Album Review: Moonlight Madness

29 Oct 2020 // A review by Mike Alexander

The official release date for Lou'ana's debut album is October 30. Whether by design or accident, it’s serendipitous. In the northern hemisphere it’s the day before the full moon, known as the Hunters Moon, which was preceded earlier in the month by the Harvest Moon. The occurrence of two full moons in a month has given rise to the expression "once in a blue moon", because it happens so infrequently.

The same could be said of Lou’ana. Rarely, in New Zealand, does a singer come along whose voice is so big, so beautiful and so luminous it contains worlds within worlds. Moonlight Madness is magnetic. It pulls at the emotions on different levels, even when the content of a lyric is a familiar story, such as a relationship that has gone sour.

It basks in the afterglow of four singles - Eye To Eye, Move Along, Summer In May and Feel This – that announced the arrival of a special talent, who had found her 'shine' in an assortment of bands including Hipstamatics, The Andrew Faleatua Band and Two Many Chiefs.

That it should have taken so long for Lou'ana to emerge as an artist in her own right speaks more to the humility and honesty evident in a collection of songs that reveal misgivings, doubts, uncertainties, disappointments than anything else. There's little arrogance or artifice.

Moonlight Madness is fully formed, meticulous in its attention to detail and draws from retrospective musical styles with forward-thinking production values, courtesy of creative catalyst and producer Nathan Judd, who makes the perfect dance partner.

The impression of the two of them moving in unison metamorphises on the opening track Eye To Eye, a song full of sexy tango passion, a sleek but booming vocal, and some gristly guitar and piano. It swirls around the head while seducing the senses with its body language.

While Eye To Eye inhabits the sensual, the rhythmic dynamics of Move Along, Reign, Feel It and Wolves alternate between funky, sassy, sophisticated, earthy and stylish. If you aren’t moved by the soulfulness and sheer power behind Lou'ana's vocal range, then the music will certainly shake you up.

I’m not sure who specifically played on the album but the ensemble cast of 14, including a full horn section, are as tight-knit as the second-generation Samoan New Zealand community Lou'ana was bought up in.

If there is one song that more fully embodies the smokiness, depth and fluidness of her vocals it’s Silence. A warm and breezy strum-along acoustic guitar and humming bass line sets the pace for a song that’s whispery, wistful and yet resolute. It blossoms with a flourish of strings that reach for the heavens as the vocal swoops and soars between the earthly and divine.

And then there's the riveting and transcendent ballad Don't Let Me Fall that threatens to tear itself apart with the intensity of its prayerful confession and plea: "My mama never told me to keep my heart safe because every time I came to love I saw my heart go away, never saving it for you, the one who pulled me through the chains and the walls that would keep me from loving you". The invocation could be intended for an intimate lover or a divine one.

It's the voice though that smoulders at the core of these songs, whose muse is the moon as is most evident in the grinding funkiness of Feel This: "Lyrically this song is about an indecisive relationship and the frustration and madness it causes-complete with a lyrical reference to my main muse, La Luna. The chorus line, "Moon is high, pulling tides to the centre of my mind, need you to feel this" refers to the medieval lunar lunacy belief that on a full moon, water is pulled to the brain causing madness."

Suffice to say, I’m thoroughly enchanted by Lou'ana and her Moonlight Madness. It is a once in a blue moon album.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Lou'ana

The free-spirited, eclectic sound of Auckland, based artist, vocalist and singer-songwriter Lou’ana (Whitney) is one of unparalleled magic. Having carved a place for herself within Auckland’s vibrant music community over the past 6 years as a proud, second generation Samoan New Zealander, Lou’ana’s voice carries the stature of an old soul; a cosmic cocktail of sweet and soulful, with an added gritty, blues edge that references the golden age of Etta James, Emmylou Harris to the rawness of Stevie Nicks and Amy Winehouse. Her heart and soul translates through sound, in that unexplainable alchemy that happens when music meets word.

Whitney has performed all around New Zealand as part of the inimitable funk troup Hipstamatics, playing a multitude of festivals across the country including some of their favourite haunts such as Hipstamatics’ “birth place”, Grand Central in Ponsonby. The spell-binding artist also performs as part of Two Many Chiefs, and has supported a number of New Zealand jazz acts including Andrew Faleatua at Samoana Jazz Festival and the 2015 Pacific Music Awards, as well as providing live vocals for kiwi electronic outfit Sola Rosa.
2019 will be the year Lou’ana releases her debut solo material to the world, as she takes to the road on a number of dates soon to be announced.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Lou'ana

Releases

Moonlight Madness
Year: 2020
Type: Album

Other Reviews By Mike Alexander

Mahoney Harris - Single Review: The Shifting of the Light
19 Nov 2020 // by Mike Alexander
There's an evocative image conjured up early on in The Shifting of the Light that beautifully illustrates the underlying theme of letting go. In referring to "paradise ducks made for life returning to their bowers time after time" singer-songwriter Mahoney Harris might well be talking about 'soul-mates' or a similarly intimate relationship that felt as if it was meant to last but didn't.
Read More...
Eden Iris - Single Review: I Just Can't Turn It Off
12 Nov 2020 // by Mike Alexander
Having exorcised a few ghosts, so to speak, on her soul stirring 2018 EP Demons, Eden Iris is finally set to release her debut album next year. It’s been an age since the now LA-based, singer-songwriter first came to national attention through Mike Chunn’s Play It Strange competition.
Read More...
Raw Collective - Single Review: Good Things (All We Need)
22 Oct 2020 // by Mike Alexander
Feel-good grooves are part of Raw Collective’s DNA. The Wellington-based 10-piece have been sowing sunflower seeds of optimism and cheerfulness for many a year now and it seems the well of goodness never dries.
Read More...
Naircol - Album Review: Isolate
16 Oct 2020 // by Mike Alexander
Naircol is Tauranga-based synthesiser whizz Matt Hennessey. I like that it is an anagram of clarion because this is quite the impressive calling card.
Read More...
Bartells - EP Review: Let's Go
08 Oct 2020 // by Mike Alexander
Sam Bartells has a way with words. In an interview with Darryl Baser from Muzic.
Read More...
Stretch - Album Review: Our Dreams Are Changing
30 Sep 2020 // by Mike Alexander
Anthony Stretch’s debut album Bury All Horses was one of the most poignant, lyrically honest and captivating albums of 2017. It was a 'dark horse', so to speak, forged in loss and loneliness, and at times a sense of anguish as he contemplated the direction of his life beyond the clouds that seemed as if they would never lift.
Read More...
Mini Simmons - Single Review: Silver Cigarette Case
30 Sep 2020 // by Mike Alexander
A defining moment for Mini Simmons occurred almost a year ago to the day when they performed a version of Benee’s Soaked at the 2019 Silver Scroll Awards. The New Zealand charting No 1 single made the cut when the 20 finalists were whittled down to five and, as has become tradition, it was covered by another artist on the night.
Read More...
Social Shun - Album Review: 7/10 of A Fridge
29 Sep 2020 // by Mike Alexander
It’s always eye-opening when you come across an artist for the first time and discover that they already have a body of work that’s never been on your radar. Such is the case with Waikato-based sound explorer and experimentalist Jason Longhurst aka Social Shun, who has released a steady stream of albums – five in all – since The Garden of Sweden in 2014.
Read More...
View All Articles By Mike Alexander

NZ Top 10 Singles

  • MOOD
    24kGoldn feat. Iann Dior
  • POSITIONS
    Ariana Grande
  • THEREFORE I AM
    Billie Eilish
  • HOLY
    Justin Bieber feat. Chance The Rapper
  • LEMONADE
    Internet Money And Gunna feat. Don Toliver And NAV
  • IN THE AIR
    L.A.B.
  • HEAD & HEART
    Joel Corry feat. MNEK
  • MONSTER
    Shawn Mendes And Justin Bieber
  • LEVITATING
    Dua Lipa feat. DaBaby
  • SAVAGE LOVE (LAXED - SIREN BEAT)
    Jawsh 685 x Jason DeRulo
View the Full NZ Top 40...
muzic.net.nz Logo
100% New Zealand Music
All content on this website is copyright to muzic.net.nz and other respective rights holders. Redistribution of any material presented here without permission is prohibited.
Report a ProblemReport A Problem