New Zealand singer-songwriter Mel Parsons kicks off her national tour this week, marking the release of her third album, Drylands.

Hitting the road is hugely appropriate given the open-road, blue-sky feeling of this album.

Even the song titles, Far Away, Alberta Sun, Far North Coast, Driving Man, Another City, speak of travel and destinations.

Although the album's sound feels in some ways stripped back and rustic, there's a deep lushness to it as well.


Driving Man features Parsons' deep, warm vocals over a sultry beat and haunting instrumentation, while the jaunty, upbeat Far Away, the lead single, even boasts a choir amongst the jingle jangle.

The warmth continues on the mellow Friend, with soaring and swooping brass accompaniment to subtly jarring lyrics like, "sometimes a lie is kinder than the truth, I just never thought I'd hear it coming from you".

Guests on the album include Ron Sexsmith on the beautiful Don't Wait, Anika Moa on many tracks and Andrew Keoghan on Friend, among other notable names.

But the true star here is Parsons' voice.

5/5 stars