She's one of New Zealand's favourite musical personalities, always lively and a little bit cheeky. But on her third album, Gin Wigmore goes for something more dramatic than her past releases. She leaves behind the knowing glances and shimmying good times of tracks like Black Sheep and Man Like That, to lay herself bare.
It's dark, gothic, romantic, raw, and more chameleonic than her past work. She uses falsetto for the first time, with the occasional flicker of Kate Bush in her quieter bits (This Old Heart), and she howls and croons. Drums have a strong presence too, more front and centre than in the past, whether they're accompanying chiming guitars or delicate piano motifs, or reverberating in plenty of space.
Though it's by no means a hip-hop album, there's also plenty in the production drawn from that world - a sense of epic scale, even with stripped-back instrumentation, and also a sense of overflowing emotion, whether that's anger, defiance, or desperation. The new introduction of a few electronic elements also creates a refreshed palette, though fans of her past work will be pleased to know there's plenty of that southern sass still present.
Nothing To No One, Written In The Water, and 24 all have a familiarity in their sound, a nod to the rocking Americana of Gravel & Wine, but remoulding the production while turning it up to 11 in the passion department.
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There's a deep, stripped-back melancholy to Black Parade, which builds into a cinematic, almost Hunger Games-esque climax, full of tolling bells and bass drums, but it's the earworm of In My Way, with it's pummelling, full-throated "set me aflame" chorus contrasted with sweet, intimate verses that'll be a live favourite.
Then there's the unexpectedly swirling rock of Holding On To Hell, and the retro-electro-pop of DFU (dancing for you), which is surprisingly Madonna-ish, but she finishes with a simple, live piano ballad, which points to her roots.
It's a clear evolution from her past songwriting - more experimental, vulnerable, weighty. But even if that means stretching the ears of her fans, it sounds like Wigmore is relishing the experience.
Artist: Gin Wigmore
Album: Blood To Bone
Verdict: Deeper, darker, and more vulnerable.