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Casual Healing - Album Review: Driftwood

13 May 2024 // A review by Corinne Rutherford
When you fly Air New Zealand, there may be a chance you have heard one of the latest singles Mauri Tau from Wellington based musician Nikau Te Huki, who goes under the name of Casual Healing on his 12-track solo project titled Driftwood. This is one of two tracks released from the self-produced debut album. The second single Up and Down as I write sits at number 4 on the Official NZ Hot Singles Charts. The lush soulful Reggae sound which this album imparts is something uniquely special.

Each track has a personal element, incorporating expressive and meaningful story telling with a gorgeous smooth easy-going style combining a comprehensive range of genres. Driftwood is roots, rock, reggae, hip hop, triphop, country, folk, R&B, gospel, house, trap and disco which when combined create an enthralling and unique sound.

This album flows leisurely from one track to the next painting a lush rich tapestry of soulful vibes.

We are welcomed to this distinctive musical experience by the first song Haere Mai, e nga iwi, haere mai. Welcome, to all the people of all the tribes of every nation. Welcome to the oasis of sound. What a beautiful oasis it is. You won't only hear the music, but you will also see and feel it.

Following on is a smooth reggae style celebration of our homeland. Aotearoa has an original slightly disjointed sound with a harmonic RnB vibe “an ode to the generations past, present and future of Aotearoa”.

Up And Down is a cheery sounding song which is as buoyant as it is wistful, taking the listener on a journey through humanities highs and lows. Expressive lyrics paired with an easy-going style to create a sublime sound which is fresh yet familiar.

The next two tracks Hori House and Jesus Reggae lift you up with a feel-good nostalgic sound. Hori House is a mix of soul and dub which is enhanced with the slight touch of a saxophone, accompanied by a fun music video that proves you don’t need a big budget to make entertaining viewing.

As I have previously mentioned, Mauri Tau is on the playlist of our National Carrier, a well-deserved honour I believe. This song is beautifully constructed, soothing soulful rhythm and blues which surprisingly changes track into a more upbeat style. Mauri Tau is a Maori phrase meaning ‘peaceful energy’ which this song has an abundance of. Velvety harmonies set the scene while the glorious tones of saxophone and piano add to the sumptuous tone. This track was created by the meaningful idea “that the only way to move forward is to surrender your soul to the current of life and let the water lead you to the ocean of truth”.

Driftwood floats through mixed up genres and powerful lyrics backed up by stunning harmonies and tight instrumentals.

From the powerful Break The Cycle which tells of broken love and breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma through to a dedication for one of Casual Healings great inspiring musicians, the songwriting is heartfelt and honest.

Landing on the title track Driftwood you can’t help but sense this is a pivotal track guided by struggle and strength. A dynamic pop song. Like the previous tracks sonically superb.

E Hoa is a mellow nostalgic tune. It is a comforting track, the saxophone draping over you like a cosy warm blanket.

Before the final song on Driftwood graces us with its stunning choral tones, there is an almighty triphop tune called Chasing Rainbows. A strong triphop vein runs through this album creating a distinctive sound. This is the final original track before the finale. A graceful cover of One Love, “recorded in one take featuring the voices of Tamariki, whanau and extended community under the name of Hori Choir, accompanied only by Casual Healings clean electric guitar” This is an exceptional cover of an iconic song, treating it with the respect it deserves.

Casual Healing and Driftwood are a jewel in the New Zealand music landscape.


About Casual Healing

Nikau Te Huki is a unique composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist based in Poneke, Aotearoa - and his soulful solo project goes by the name of Casual Healing.

For over six years, Nikau has significantly influenced the music scene in Wellington. Establishing a vibrant hub for indigenous Roots, Rock, and Reggae through his band H4LF CAST. Notable performances have taken place at Gardens Magic, Tora Bombora, Nest Fest, and Twisted Frequency.

There’s something curious about this young Maori-Italian maestro. He holds a charming crooked smile and often appears in elaborate wardrobe, with an old nylon guitar over his shoulder looking like Elvis Marley, weaving a symphony of Roots, RnB, Reggae, Neo-soul, Indie, folklore and Rock. The entire Casual Healing discography has been produced by Nikau in his home studio, Te Whare CHuR. Thus we begin to explore the many talents of this man.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Casual Healing


Year: 2024
Type: Album

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