‘White City’ is a lovely walk through stories of Oamaru’s early colonial years, tales of the “…settlement, growth, legend and heritage” of the town. Phil Powers ’ writing is succinct and his melodies are soft and reassuring, so ‘walk’ is the most apt term for the album.
He is a masterful storyteller, and arranger too, with little touches of other instruments that bring out small and tasteful moments in the music and stories.
Along with the songs, the album comes with a short informative description of the original story that each is based on – a very nice touch. My favourite, The Girl From The Criterion, tells the story of Opium Mag, Powers making up her story then following it up with facts. Clifton Hill Productions’ slogan, ‘Beautifully Simple. Simply Beautiful’, resonates well with this album.
Alongside them were Robbie Duncan of Braeburn Studio and Luke Parry at Kaitiaki Studio, who deserve credit. The tracks flow seamlessly into one another and keep the overall ambience right through till the end. Players include Dave Patterson (tremolo and harmonica), Luke Parry (bass), Eden Bradshaw (violin) and Duncan again on keys. Soft, but not so slow as to be boring, some of the tracks sink in, while others flow gently past.