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

Album review: Tama Waipara, Fill Up the Silence

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Tama Waipara is known for a variety of roles - as a cast member of Brel and Raising the Titanics, creator of the Everything is Ka Pai Arts Festival show, or as a gregarious singer-songwriter.

There's no doubting his strong vocal talents (he has the pure, soaring, power of Rufus Wainwright), or musicality, but this feels like the first time Waipara has taken all his strengths and focused them into 11 sonically and emotionally impressive tracks - with the help of New York-based Kiwi producer Aaron Nevezie.

Often rhythmically driven, with inspirations from across the Pacific, it's also a homage to the dramatic, lush sounds of the 80s, and showcases plenty of aching melodies (Letter), along with the knowledge of his jazz and classical training (Night Vision).

Medicine Man has an urgency in its pounding ode to the power of music, and the intricacy between the bass and percussion parts in the title track reminds of Thom York's side project Atoms For Peace.

There are a few esoteric tracks at the tail-end of the album, but Mirror is a highlight, a ballad of sweet intensity, while On the Wall has all the hallmarks of a great lighter-waving 80s synth-rock track.

Stars: 4/5
Verdict: Heartfelt collection from musical chameleon
Click here to buy Fill Up the Silence by Tama Waipara.

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