7 Dec 2022
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SOL3 MIO - Album Review: Coming Home

17 Nov 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to catch these guys at Spark Arena and it was truly one of the greatest concerts I have ever attended. Given that my idea of a great night often consists of high energy metal of one type or another, I would not normally say that about an evening of light opera. Some of the songs they performed that night are now here on this 12-track album which is a delight from beginning to end. Since Pene Pati, Amitai Pati and Moses Mackay, first performed together to raise funds for their overseas opera training, Aotearoa have held them close to our hearts. Not only are they three wonderfully trained singers, but they also have the togetherness and companionship which only comes from growing up in a close family, and the two brothers and their cousin have fun when they perform together.

That comes through on this album, as you can hear them smiling at each other as they take us through a series of contemporary and light classic material. This means that while we have standards such as Romanza and E Ipo, they are right next to Sylvia’s Mother and If. Their third studio album is a very much stripped-down affair, with little in the way of over-the-top accompaniment, sometimes just a ukulele while of course there are also times when it is just their voices. The toms and double bass on Don’t Worry Be Happy assist them in turning the Bobby McFerrin number into something even more joyous. Their harmonies are a delight, but one would just not expect anything less.

Towards the end of the album is a song which takes a lot to make it into their own, but the power behind Hallelujah can only come from professionally trained singers. Moses sings the first verse on his own in his baritone, Amitai performs the second, with Pene the third, with the piano accompaniment building until they get to the next chorus, where everything drops away and they sing the chorus together, softly, just their voices. Then, suddenly they swell and the song lifts in a full celebration. A special mention must be made of award-winning producer Nic Manders (Six60, Katchafire) who has allowed the guys to really shine, at the centre of a very special album indeed.

Anyone in New Zealand will have a certain expectation of Sol3 Mio, as they are incredibly beloved, and this album has allowed them really to demonstrate their talents without being hidden behind orchestration and over production, with their voices ringing freely and powerful. If you don’t hail from Aotearoa and have no idea who these guys are then pop over to YouTube and play the video for the finest world cup anthem ever performed, I See Fire from 2015. Then everyone go out and get the album.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About SOL3 MIO

Made up of two tenor brothers, Pene and Amitai Pati from Mangere, and their North Shore baritone cousin Moses Mackay, SOL3 MIO is the combination of three powerful and moving operatic voices, with more than a dash of uncontainable Samoan humour. By their own definition they are first and foremost ‘classical singers bridging the gap with contemporary’ , but the unique way in which they do it has already shown the potential to cut through the critical cognoscenti, and appeal to audiences who wouldn’t normally be found anywhere near an aria. Their onstage brotherly bonhomie, off the cuff banter and impeccable comedic timing is no act, simply an extension of their natural selves, and the culmination of a lifetime’s worth of singing, performing and entertaining.

In some respects their backgrounds are typical – families moving over from Samoa to seek a better life in New Zealand and having to make sacrifices in the process, as well as finding value in music, choirs, hard work and an ability to see the absurdity in life. However, what they have made of these solid, but modest, beginnings is anything but average. Amongst their numerous awards and accolades Pene was the 2010 NZ Performer Of The Year, Amitai won the 2012 Lexus Song Quest and Moses was recognized as an Emerging Artist by the Dame Malvina Major Foundation last year. Though all three have studied for Bachelor Of Music graduates from the University of Auckland, the foundations of the stagecraft that they have added to exceptional raw talent, also comes from a crammed musical CV that spans everything from weekly childhood performances in rest homes, to backing George Benson. It was when Moses and Pene sang in the choir behind Andrea Bocelli in 2008, that their eyes and ears were fully opened to the possibilities of opera, setting them on a course that would lead to the formation of SOL3 MIO, three years later.

Performing together as a trio at Pene’s farewell, after he had been selected to attend the prestigious Wales International Academy Of Voice, an audience member piped up and suggested they should form a group – laughed off at the time, the idea took hold. Within a year, all three had been individually chosen to go to Wales for tuition under the highly esteemed Dennis O’Neill – an incredible opportunity but also one with a combined cost of over $100,000. Rolling their sleeves up, they launched SOL3 MIO with a series of fundraisers, that began with high stress in a half filled hall in Massey High School, and concluded with a triumphant show at a sold out Auckland Town Hall in October 2012 – funds sorted. Now with a self-titled album of their work, beginning naturally with the eponymous Neapolitan song, and ending with a rousing We Are Samoa, the stage is set for the next chapter in what is already, an extraordinary story.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for SOL3 MIO

Releases

Coming Home
Year: 2021
Type: Album
On Another Note
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Sol3 Mio
Year: 2013
Type: Album

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