The Māori EP title means, ‘that which holds precious things’ – ie. a vessel (waka) for holding something treasured (kura). Goldsmith is well known for her contribution to the New Zealand jazz scene and it’s pleasing to hear her and Taylor’s combined passion towards Māori culture and language.
Musically, the title is reflected by Goldsmith’s te reo lyrics, a truly soulful vocal, accessible songwriting, delicate, articulate delivery, and in the sympathetic, well-crafted stylings of Taylor’s guitar work.
Jazz stalwart Mike Booth plays trumpet on Iri Ngākau and the rhythm section (heard on He Rā Ki Tua and Matariki) comprises of Hayden Wharewaka (drums) and Tom Dennison (another accomplished jazz artist) playing bass.
The single He Rā Ki Tua previously enjoyed 32 weeks in the Te Reo Māori Airplay Top 20, arguably due to its upbeat feel, catchy hooks and those jazz undertones.
The remaining tracks are Whakaari (the Māori name for White Island), and Hīkoi Tātou. Goldsmith’s lyrics are sensitive to the culture she is voicing – calling for love, respect, friendship, solidarity, and hope.
It is refreshing to feel authentic messages in contemporary song, and ‘The Waka Kura Sessions’ demonstrate a solid balance of appeal, sophistication and sensitivity. Allana Goldsmith is a voice to pay attention to in the future.