Daphne Lawless
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New Zealand Musician vol 10 no 3, June/July 2002

Now this is a slightly annoying review; what it actually says is a lot more positive than the impression it gives at first glance, thanks to the double negatives etc. Yes, live acoustic instrumentation would have been nice, but the budget didn't stretch that far for this release; it's a priority for the next album.


Lawless is a singer/songwriter/pianist who hails from Wellington. 'Undinal Songs' is her second release to date, but her first with label backing (Random Static Music). Set against a backdrop of synthesisers, strings, pan-pipes and programmed drums, the poetic lyrics paint strong yet gentle images of love and a oneness with nature. Recorded using Cakewalk home studio software, this album has been two years in the making with Lawless claiming sole production/writing credits. Given the length of time spent tracking, I cannot help but feel that some of the songs would have benefited from some live acoustic instrumentation, particularly the percussion. That's not to say that the arrangements aren't well put together, or the musicianship mediocre. Lawless's voice is very strong and she is quite clearly an accomplished pianist. However, one gets the feeling that her intentions here have been to direct the listeners' attention towards her lyrics, with quotes from T.S Elliott, Shakespeare and Neil Gaiman clearly outlining her origins of inspiration, Musically, things point towards a sound rooted in traditional English folk. The final two tracks translated and sung in Esperanto, 'A neutral, international second language for everyone - the best solution to the world's communication problems' as stated in a footnote, may serve to alienate rather than inspire listeners.

Ben Eldridge

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