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Reviewed by Amanda Mills

John White: Henry Green and the Island of Tuliarts

Reviewed by Amanda Mills

John White: Henry Green and the Island of Tuliarts

The words ‘concept album’ can be a deterrent, but when done well they are often spectacular. Dunedin’s John White (exMëstar and The Blueness) has created something intriguing with his new release ‘Henry Green and the Island of Tuliarts’ – loosely about a sinking island inhabited by the native Tuliarts, who are colonised by pirates, but saved by the titular Henry Green. White’s lush dream pop accentuates the stories and music, rather than overarching conceptual themes, though recurring motifs of the nautical twist through the songs, with strings evoking sea shanties and tales of travel. The album (recorded, mixed and mastered in Berlin by Nigel Braddock) is multi-instrumentalist White’s fourth solo outing and a welcome return. There’s much to unpick; trad folk arrangements weave throughout and match the themes well, especially on Sally, which (seemingly unrelated to the concept) tells the story of a woman emigrating to NZ in the 1880s, and the isolation and sadness attached. As a contrast, melodic and elegant chamber-pop or chamber-folk moments such as Batholemule Brixton, or the darker Noneoir reveal White as comfortable writing in any idiom. One truly personal moment peeks through; Farewell Song is for a late (and missed) friend, and White’s musical range changes with electric guitar, rather than strings, providing the backdrop. This wistful, often whimsical record is a reminder of how enticing John White’s brand of dream pop can be.