17 May 2022

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Stewart Allan - Album Review: 9 Rooms

18 Oct 2021 // A review by Roger Bowie

Oh my goodness, how many more hidden talents do we have in this lockdown land?

Stewart Allan has been a musician for over 20 years and first made a name for himself in a forest in Poland before the wall came down. Like Robin Hood. He also appeared at Ellerslie Racecourse in 1986, not for the races, but for royalty.

And now he has released his co-called debut album, which is actually his second, which is almost legendary in terms of scarcity. But that’s because he went back to school to learn more about music and stayed there, as a teacher, and as a composer/arranger. So just because you haven’t heard of him doesn’t mean you haven’t heard him, in orchestra, choir and choral works.

9 Rooms is his concept album, but think in terms of Jeremy Redmore, Thomas Oliver and Graeme James. Thinking persons’ musicians. Existential poets. Orchestrators. Conductors. And glorious falsettos. Jon Anderson vocals. Spatial guitar in this instance from Arli Liberman and mysticism from Stewart himself on sitar.

Progressive pop, 9 Rooms covers nine experiences in various locations which reflect key life moments. Existential. Philosophical. Some of the rooms are quite dark, missiles to the moon, or Rocks Against Bullets, when you’re dying to be free; yet the music casts light through the window, like dappled sun finding its way through a Titirangi canopy.

Another aspect of the rooms is the pervasive metaphor of journey. And other worlds as metaphor for our problems on earth. The room is not a prison as much as a memory, and a place, a launchpad from which to escape to halcyon days, or a better future. Help us make sense of the place we are on by Chasing Stars In Paradise.

Or Shall We Dance, with a videoed kaleidoscope of improvised dance from around the world. Connections. Connected. Stewart Allan is connected to the world through music. Flying on Silver Wings, saying goodbyes to past rooms of his life, taking a magic carpet ride to a better place, where there are no endings, only beginnings. And so, while lyrically there is a sense of sadness and longing and despair, musically there is an optimistic pathway out of and away from the claustrophobic chamber. Play this music loud on a sunny afternoon. Use your voice as a loaded gun. To welcome the New Moon.

And When We Say Goodbye to the ninth room, there’s an uplifting finality. Even goodbye moments are perfect.

Stewart Allan is worldly wise, but is not promising us an easy way out of the mess we are in. Except through the music. The music is the muse.

9 Rooms. Gorgeous little album. Check it out

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Stewart Allan

Stewart Allan is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Aotearoa, New Zealand.

From singing behind the Iron Curtain, touring Japan and New Zealand as well as directing and writing music for stage and screen, he sings, plays guitar, piano and sitar.

Stewart began his career with a performance of an original song Younger Days for Queen Elizabeth II at the Ellerslie Racecourse as part of her NZ tour in 1986.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Stewart Allan


9 Rooms
Year: 2021
Type: Album

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