Part-waiata, part-folk, part-spoken word, and all class from the Christchurch-born singer

(Herald rating * * * *)

This Kapiti Coast-based singer-songwriter was in these pages a fortnight ago, saying her music had been described as "kinky indigenous symphonies". To which we might add kindly, don't always believe what people tell you.

Baker's enticing, folk-based music walks the line between classic Joni Mitchell in its melody-bending and entrancing vibrato, and Bic Runga in its elemental elegance. But it also has the added depth of her Maori heritage in the occasional use of te reo and the waiata tradition.

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With slippery bass, lap steel, djembe drum, cello and traditional Maori instruments used discreetly, this diverse collection runs from a cappella to full-bodied folk and spoken word pieces over picked acoustic guitar.

Baker sings of the power of nature in a way which is heartfelt but never cloyingly sentimental, of the fires of love which both warm and sear the heart, and of her heritage.

The final track is a spare rendering of the beautiful ballad Secret Love, which she treats with reverence.

Baker has just published her first book of poetry (Matuhi/Needle), and this album is a finalist for best folk album of 2004.

The winner will be announced when Baker and the other contenders (Bob McNeill and John Sutherland) play the Auckland Folk Festival at Kumeu on January 30.

You have been warned of a major talent.

(Jayrem)