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RUA - "Homeland : The Rua Collection" - Greentrax CDTRAX 061

Rua are not a group that I know, but then they probably don't know me either, so this is new territory for me. Well, New Zealand is a long way off, and that's where this lot are based. How does the music survive the long trip? Very well indeed, mostly.

This is a compilation of two New Zealand albums, "The Commonwealth Suite" and "Live In The Cathedral" and therefore give us a mixture of live and studio recordings, which explore various types of music.

"The Commonwealth Suite" is a somewhat off-putting title for a 'Brendan Voyage' style musical tribute to the Celtic emigrants who settled throughout the Commonwealth, as well as being a celebration of New Zealand's 150th anniversary. Combining Northumbrian piping at its evocative best with synthesised sounds, it leads into Maori rhythms and the music reflects the idea of the emigrant not losing identity and uniqueness, but using these qualities to enhance and become one with a new society.

Slightly differing line-ups on different tracks do not affect the overall quality of the music, which is well-balanced and thoughtfully arranged. Denny Stanway, the lead vocalist has an accent which I can only describe as "trans-Pacific" but she tackles numbers such as "Jock O' Hazeldean", "The Diamontina Drover" and "The First Time Ever" with an aplomb which suits her timbre, which is powerful and mellow.

Musically, we have a mixture of traditional Scottish and Irish numbers and self-penned items which flow well, with lots of drive and energy, but not at the expense of sensitivity. To summarise, this is 75 minutes worth of quality musicianship which covers a wide range of material and deserves a listen.

Iain Ericson
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This album was reviewed in Issue 1 of The Living Tradition magazine.