EASTERN, THE - Hope & Wire

$29.95Price
Album review: The Eastern, Hope and Wire

The self-titled 2009 debut and Arrows (2010) by this Christchurch band alerted many to their poetic, political and bare-knuckle country-influenced songs which sit alongside Springsteen's working class balladry, the rambunctious Pogues, whisky-voiced Steve Earle, pub rocking Dr Feelgood and Cold Chisel's open-road truths. Their range is given full rein on this ambitious but exceptional double disc recorded in an abandoned house in quake-damaged Christchurch.

There are fiddle-coloured songs here reflecting that tragedy (Town Like Here, the title track); writers Adam McGrath and Jess Shanks offering subtle takes rather than going for cheap, obvious sentiment. But when it comes to the politics of mining and off-shore drilling they pull no punches ("maybe we'll burn the Beehive baby . . . cut the fat right from their bones, feed it to the poor" on the gutsy Gone). Although you can hear influences, the Eastern are never less than distinctively ours - Flora Knight and Charlotte Ivey adding vocal sweetness or melancholy as required - as they write of tough lives on the margins; drinking to remember and forget; the evils of loggers of native timber and auto-tune singers; of outsider culture and the dignity of those struggling.
Hope and Wire is romantic and rollicking, speaks from the heart - often urban and not some cliched "heartland" - and comes in a pointed cover.

By Graham Reid (NZ Herald)
Stars: 5/5
Format
  • Details

    Track listing
    1. Gone
    2. Three Angels
    3. Town Like Here
    5. Set A Signal
    6. The Letting Go
    7. State Houses By The River
    8. Sad Heart
    9. The James Girl
    10. Out On The Sun
    11. North Wind
    12. Turn It Round
    13. Four On The Floor
    14. Up Spinner
    15. Hope And Wire
    16. Wait Out The Winter
    17. So Low Blues
    18. Let 'Em Know
    19. The Waterside
    20. In The Morning