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I had never heard of New Zealander Bic Runga before this, her second studio album, was released in 2002. I bought the album because I had read such glowing reviews about it. Uncut Album Review stated that this was "the lovliest collection of songs in recent history" whilst the guardian called it "utterly magical".
I am so glad to have discovered this artist! Runga's voice has a purity which is heartbreaking. She sings with a clear, honest and simple style. There is none of the tonsil juggling that you might hear from artists like Beyonce or Leona Lewis. Having composed and arranged all of the songs on this album Runga is an intelligent artist who can express what it means to love as a friend or a lover. She also taps into modern living whilst retaining a dreamy sense of yesteryear. Her songs are the theme tunes to the city and the wilderness.
'When I see You Smile' has a sense of sleepiness and conjures up the moments between a couple during tender private moments. It sounds like a child's lullabuy with adult lyrics. Although it's only performed with an accoustic guitar the voice feels like it's a full orchestra as it's so full and rich. The song is far too short though and it ends with me wanting more!
'Get Some Sleep' is a fun and bubbly song that feels aimed at sophisticated twenty-somethings. There is a lovely cry for camaraderie a real sense of life being celebrated and lived to the full. The chorus comes alive with the quirky little announcement: "I believe I might be having fun".
'Something Good' is a warm and upbeat song celebrating romance and human relationships. It's a mood lifter whose lyrics talk of positive events occuring in the future. Runga sings like a carefree bird.
'Precious Things' is a misty and sultry track. It kind of feels like a vision of an oasis in a desert, there is a strange sense of lightheadedness. It's not exactly a memorable melody but it's a nice song that entrances and subdues. The spellbinding lyrics talk of the cosmos.
'The Be All and End All' has a folk style and sports oddball lyrics that summon up a sense of chidhood. It's performed as if by an older woman looking back to the past.
Bic's voice is given a workout on 'Election Night' and it's stunning to hear just what she can do, especially when hitting those fluted higher notes. Impressive vocals where the voice sounds determined and gutsy. There is a hearty rock vibe and mature, intellectual lyrics.
On 'Honest Goodbyes' Runga has a child-like voice that really sing-songs in a pretty lilting manner. The music has a soft, bouncy rhythm and there is an old fashioned dignity about the song.
'She Left On a Monday' is a sad song that tells the story of lost love. The characters in the song are brought to life by remarkably perceptive lyrics.
In the eponymous track 'Beautiful Collision' there is a harshness and precision to Runga's voice. It's a very arty track and feels like it might be best performed in a big opera house somewhere!
Whenever I hear 'Listening For The Weather' I get visions of Paul McCartney singing it. I think this is a measure of how well written this track is. It has a country vibe with a bit of playfulness in the music and voice. Excellent rhyming lyrics that flow like honey mean this song is easy to sing to and remember.
There is a Katie Melua touch to 'Counting The Days'. It's very floaty and has an intellectual air. There are some great musical touches from a clarinet and banjo which sounds very unique and original.
'Gravity' is a lovely track that takes you on a mental journey through space and time. It has a wistfulness about it that is compelling. I love the line: "I'll meet you somewhere in the milky night, way past the satellites..."
'Sway' is a bonus track and was probably included on this album as it was a single success from Runga's first album 'Drive'. It's great for those new to Runga's music as this is the most commercial track on the album. It's a hip but laid back pop song, reminiscent of artists like Natalie Imbruglia, and very, very catchy!
Runga is really a beautiful singer who I'm really glad I discovered. Her songs move and inspire me and I'd reccommend having a listen to this album. I'd describe the album as both mellow and emotionally stinging and it contains both happy-go-lucky pop and deep, insightful songs.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 When I See you Smile
2 Get Some Sleep
3 Something Good
4 Precious Things
5 The Be All And End All
6 Election Night
7 Honest Goodbyes
8 She Left On A Monday
9 Beautiful Collision
10 Listening For The Weather
11 Counting The Days