When you have the power of New Zealand’s premier recording studio behind you, things can happen. Mitch Golner enlisted a who’s who of New Zealand session musicians, taking them into Roundhead, the studio founded by our own resident music god Neil Finn.
Opener Can’t Take It is a solid rocker augmented by the slippery bluesy lead guitar of The Bads’ Brett Adams. The rest of the band are also stone cold, top drawer session players, the benefits of their delicate touch and the high-value production can’t be underestimated.
Wayne Bell on drums showcases his ability on both sides of the beat. He leads from the front on Dark Hearted American Night, then pushes How It Feels To Be Free backwards and forward as the song demands.
Rounding out the ensemble is Ed Gaiger on bass and Stephen Small on keys, both excellent and sympathetic.
For me, Dark Hearted American Night is the standout track if only for the Bonham-esque drum finish and a vocal reminiscent of Robby Robertson talking cool and sweet somewhere up the crazy river.
Golner’s lyrics are somewhat better than his singing voice (an accusation levelled at some of the world’s best).
The band’s service to his songs provides an exemplar for any musician looking to make a career as the guy or gal who plays the right thing in the right place.