28 Feb 2024

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

Adam McGrath - Album Review: Dear Companions

08 Jan 2023 // A review by Kev Rowland

Due to many reasons, I have been somewhat late to the underground NZ scene but over the last few years have been fortunate enough to meet some incredible people, see some amazing performances, and hear some wonderful music. All of these come together in one man, Adam McGrath, leader of The Eastern. I was fortunate enough to see them at Auckland Folk Festival in 2021, and catch one of Adam’s solo shows at the same event, but I also sat with them and had a conversation which left me feeling that Adam is one of the most interesting people I have ever come across.

With Adam what you see is what you get, a straight talking honest person who loves his community and will give you the shirt off his back if that will help, and every year plays hundreds of gigs either solo or with his band. Before Covid struck he got into the studio long enough to record this album, then let it stay there as he stayed stuck at home before he got The Eastern up and running again. He knew he would get to it one day, but one day became today as one of his friends became really ill, and needed expensive drugs not covered by the system, so this album has been put out to raise valuable funds, with little in the way of publicity (there is no large machine behind Adam). There will be no Spotify (or the like) streaming of the album, as Adam says, “It’s gonna be old fashioned. If anyone wants it then it’s for sale, on Vinyl, CD and Download.”

I didn’t know any of that before I heard it, and Adam was amazed I even knew about its existence (it’s all Steve Bone’s fault, as usual), as he had been meaning to send me a copy, but Christmas and touring was getting in the way, but he then sent me through the press release, and it was only after reading it that I knew why it was out. However, in many ways, it feels fitting as this is a very special album indeed, and that it has been made available for a special reason feels right. Produced by Lindon Puffin, Adam has brought in some fine friends to assist, and while he provides vocals, guitar, harmonica, and glockenspiel he has been joined by Jono Hopley (double bass, bodhran), Brendan Gregg (mandolin, bodhran, guitars, backing vocals), Frankie Daly (piano, Hammond, accordion, synth, backing vocals), Adam Hattaway (guitar), Jol Mulholland (drums), Reb Fountain (backing vocals), and Matthew David (pedal steel), but to me this is all about the voice, singing his stories.

It is impossible to describe the sheer gravitas of this album, the empathy and passion which comes through. Adam is putting his soul out there for everyone to see, laying himself bare, opening himself up and making himself totally vulnerable. This is not something to be played in the background while doing something else, or when there is noise around, but needs to be really listened to as this transports those who really hear to a different time and place.  There is no rush to an ending, no studio trickery, just musicians allowing Adam the space ad time to do what is needed and providing subtle enhancements when they are needed.

To tie in with the last even MNZ newsletter I was asked to produce my Top 10’s at the beginning of December, at which time this had not been released. If it had been, there is no doubt in my mind that this would have been my #1 as this is a very special release indeed. Roots music just does not get any better than this, with this storyteller living the life of the travelling troubadour, a role he was born to play. Don’t believe me? Go to https://adammcgrath.net/ and see what I mean. Your ears will thank you forever.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Adam McGrath

Lead singer and songwriter from mythical mongrel Christchurch Folk/Country band The Eastern.

Described by influential country magazine No Depression as “One of the best modern roots acts from any country period”, by the NZ Herald as “NZ’s toughest minded songwriter” and by Radio NZ National as a “National Treasure”, an Adam McGrath show is primed and proud to reach your heart, head and boots.

A folk singer in the truest, traditional sense but one who’s songs speak to the times we find ourselves in and the people with whom we share them with McGrath has a virtual lifetime spent on the road around NZ and everywhere beyond. He sees his job as to pick up the stories he finds, siphon them down to the bone and the heart and bring them around to the next place and the next.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Adam McGrath


Dear Companions
Year: 2022
Type: Album

Other Reviews By Kev Rowland

Gig Review: Crushfest @ The Tuning Fork, Auckland - 07/07/2023
07 Jul 2023 // by Kev Rowland
So it was down to Tuning Fork for the first night of the second Crushfest festival. Tonight was going to be Wellington and Auckland bands, and then some of the same will be playing at the second night in Wellington next month.
Rain - Single Review: Love and War
15 Jun 2023 // by Kev Rowland
It has been quite a while since I last heard from Wellington-based singer songwriter Cathy Elizabeth, and back then Rain was seen solely as a studio project with Cathy being accompanied by Thomas Te Taite, who provided all the instrumentation including digital drums. Now they are a full band who have been performing live, and it is the first time they have recorded as such, with Thomas now, just providing acoustic guitar (plus engineering and producing etc.
Lost Vessels - Single Review: All This Time
01 Jun 2023 // by Kev Rowland
I must admit I was not that impressed when I first saw Lost Vessels play at Crushfest, something they later admitted to me was the worst gig of their career, but since then they have improved in leaps and bounds. This has been noticed by others on the Auckland circuit as they are getting more opportunities with better support slots, and I was not at all surprised when they won the Ding Dong Lounge Battle Of The Bands in November last year.
Unwanted Subject - Single Review: Sons of Savages
28 May 2023 // by Kev Rowland
I have caught Unwanted Subject in concert a few times over the last couple of years, and while they have been getting better each time I have seen them, I must admit that nothing prepared me for this, which right from the off is a monster. I have never heard them quite this is aggressive, nor as polished, and this multi-sectioned single sounds almost like a different band as they have pushed their metal roots to the max in this metalcore beast which sees them mixing and blending different genres to create something quite special.
Gig Review: Stray Dogs @ AUX, Auckland - 26/05/2023
28 May 2023 // by Kev Rowland
So it was back to Ding Dong Lounge on a Friday night for one of their infamous Emo nights, which tonight was a three-band bill with Stray Dogs having an extended set, supported by Altaea and then up first we had Blindr, a band new to me. Blindr are a quartet featuring Bill Caldwell (vocals, guitar), Blake Woodfield (lead guitar), Jack Power (bass), and Charlie McCracken (drums).
Gig Review: Turkey The Bird @ The Ministry of Folk, Auckland - 27/05/2023
27 May 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Back up to Auckland Guide Centre in Mount Eden tonight for my second consecutive gig (Sol suggested it was a turkey sandwich as I am at Vader tomorrow) to see Taranaki’s finest, Turkey The Bird at The Ministry of Folk. Before that we of course had Hoop, who are Al Baxter (vocals, guitar, harmonica, banjo, mandolin), Nick Edgar (vocals, guitar, ukulele, flute, harmonica), Emily Allen (violin, viola), Glenn Coldham (bass) while tonight Gary Hunt was filling in for drummer Rusty Knox.
This Silent Divide - Single Review: Beautiful Creature
25 May 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Here we have the latest single from Wellington-based melodic hard rock quartet This Silent Divide, entitled Beautiful Creature. I really enjoyed their Tall Stories EP, and they played a great gig at Dead Witch towards the end of last year, and this would have been recorded at about the same time.
Gig Review: Emily Rice @ Your Local Coffee Roasters, Pukekohe - 24/05/2023
24 May 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Earlier this week I had a message from Emily Rice asking me if I lived in South Auckland. When I responded I did, she asked if I would be interested in coming along to an event she was putting on in a coffee shop in Pukekohe to celebrate the release of her new single, Warenoa.
View All Articles By Kev Rowland

NZ Top 10 Singles

    YG Marley
    Benson Boone
    Noah Kahan
    Teddy Swims
    Jack Harlow
    Taylor Swift
    Tate McRae
    Dua Lipa
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