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Another Spin
A blog by Scott E. Shepherd · A continuing look at popular music, past, present and future.


Monday, March 5, 2007

Making “Beautiful” Music

Very few people have heard of Bic Runga here in the United States, but in her native New Zealand, she is one of that nation's biggest stars. As unique as her heritage (her father is Maori and her mother is Malaysian), Runga has quite a following and even received the attention of more internationally known Kiwi rockers Dave Dobbyn and Tim Finn (of Split Enz and Crowded House fame). Dobbyn even plays guitar on several songs on her album, Beautiful Collision.
 
Released in 2002, Beautiful Collision is a collection well-crafted pop songs mostly dealing with love and romance. Runga blends elements of jazz, rock, and folk, and even a hint of lounge singer (her mother actually was a lounge singer) into he own unique style. Her music is similar to that of Nora Jones, but Runga is more upbeat and her voice is a bit softer and sweeter.
 
Collision opens simply with "When I See You Smile," an acoustic number with just Runga and a guitar. It's a nice introduction to the album and Runga's style. The album then jumps into the standout "Get Some Sleep," a song about touring. "From here to there and everywhere and back to Union Square, where do I get some sleep?" she croons. With its catchy melody and intelligent lyrics, this is the song that grabs the listener's attention; and from here Runga doesn't let go.
 
 "Something Good" follows, and while it's a pleasant tune, it's one of my least favorite (somehow Runga using "yah" instead of "you" just grates on me). But Runga then switches gears with "Precious Things" with a definite Asian flavor, to"Election Night," an edgier, more rock feeling song. Other standouts are the title track (with its staccato strings sounding like raindrops) and "Listening for the Weather."
 
All in all, Beautiful Collision is a pleasant album that grows on you more after each listen. Bic Runga may not be a household name in America yet, but even a place as remote as New Zealand can't keep a talent like this hidden forever.

Posted at 9:42 am ET