23 Sep 2023

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Evan Silva - Album Review: Reihana Street

31 Aug 2023 // A review by Roger Bowie

Out of the blue, nearly 60 years in the making, lands Reihana Street in my inbox with an extraordinary back story. 

Evan Silva was an altar boy gone wild, a Mission Bay mafiosi, and a singer/songwriter from the mid-sixties, starting at age 13 singing pop songs, before settling into soul and then selling that soul to the excesses of the 60’s in Kings Cross centred Sydney, sailing close to the edge, before epiphany struck, and overnight, life changed. 

New Zealand’s Al Green followed his footsteps into evangelical Christianity, but, just like Bishop Al, the music never stopped, it just sobered up. And now, a dozen or so albums later, the pastor and funeral director from Paeroa is back with what he claims is his last album, recorded with a bunch of his prolific musician mates, to deliver an extraordinary mélange of blue-eyed soul, pop, R & B, and what followers of Steely Dan might, tongue in cheek, also call yacht rock. Blues, jazz, pop and soul in a pot-pourri of funky sound. Extraordinary, revelatory, a secret revealed, and possibly that is just a reflection of my own ignorance, but many I have asked, have also replied, Evan who?

Reihana Street is in the heart of Orakei, Tamaki Makauru, where the young Evan ran wild, hence the album title as an appropriate sign off, a sayonara to an almost forgotten era, when excess turns to absolution, one extreme to another, and who is to judge? Let the music speak, Mr Moon while we mere mortals practice our sponge techniques and take it all in. 

If you like Steely Dan, go no further than the title track and it’s en suite, City Life and rejoice in the retro, we do remember, and the musicianship is, by the way, immaculate, with notably superb guitar from Kristian Bennett. Angels they come, and Angels They Go, but the angels on this album are scattered by Covid, and this album is recorded remotely from home studios and masterfully mixed and mastered by Warren Barnett in New South Wales.

Surely evokes, well it’s hard to get away from Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, but Boz Scaggs certainly creeps in, Stevie Wonder floats by, the Eagles soar in, Al Green pontificates, Lou Rawls growls and if you are Inside Out you are grooving to some Larry Carlton funky jazz. Superb musicians, but Evan Silva’s silky-smooth voice, with the occasional grit, permeates the offering and makes the music timeless. It sounds so familiar, and yet it’s also original, not a cover to be seen nor a dry eye in the house on Reihana Street in Orakei in the 1950's.

Check out Evan Silva, it’s a must play at your next retro soul party. Not allowed to give star ratings these days, but there wouldn’t have been enough of them, so Reihana Street shall remain starless and bible black…


About Evan Silva

Session Singer NZ & Australia.
Recording Artist/Performer/Singer-Songwriter since 1967- 2023.
Author/Under The Afro & Pieces Of Silva.
Public Speaker.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Evan Silva


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