Lydia Jenkin is an entertainment feature writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Album Review: Whirimako Black, The Late Night Plays

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Cover for 'The Late Night Plays'. Photo / Supplied
Cover for 'The Late Night Plays'. Photo / Supplied

Though she's been releasing albums for 20 years, stretching the boundaries of jazz and blues, fusing them with traditional Maori song forms and te reo, this is Whirimako Black's first album entirely in English.

The Late Night Plays sees her covering favourites from the world of jazz and further afield. Black has a timeless quality and one of those voices that is reassuring not only in its accomplishment but in its ability to interpret, emote and inspire.

Here she melds effortlessly between a shivering version of Lover Man to the smooth and nonchalant On & On by Erakah Badu; from a deeply soulful take of Simply Beautiful by Al Green to a sly, winking version of Dance Me To The End Of Love by Leonard Cohen.

An aching version of U2's Love Is Blindness that sounds like it could have been written for her proves just how diverse Black's talents are, and her daringly faithful rendition of Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now is as goosebump-inducing as the original.

On Miles Davis' Run The Voodoo Down she has the balance just right, somehow sounding wise and knowing while also dripping with cool cat attitude. Backed by a tremendous selection of musicians who understand exactly what tasteful means, this is one covers album that is a classic in its own right.

Stars: 4/5

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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