Don McGlashan’s Lucky Stars – A Review

A confession, dear reader, from this Australian reviewer about this artist from New Zealand.

I had heard the name Don McGlashan.  I may have even heard some small sample of his material.

So when I came upon his new album Lucky Stars (out in Australia on October 30 on Only Blues Music), I had no immediate excitement due to a lack of knowledge of credentials.

Some research has revealed an amazing bio.

Don McGlashan is in fact one of New Zealand’s most highly-regarded songwriters, with five entries in APRA’s* 100 Best Ever NZ Songs.  A member of successful bands and duos over the years and winner of awards from the NZ Recording Industry, NZ Music, The UK Independent Newspaper, PR Silver Scroll (NZ’s top songwriter) and the Auckland University Literary Fellowship.

Parallel to his songwriting and performing career, Don has scored over a dozen feature films and five TV series, including Jane Campion’s An Angel At My Table (1990), and the British Film Institute’s 100 Years of New Zealand Cinema (1995).  He’s won multiple awards for those TV and movie scores.

In 2006, he released his first solo album Warm Hand which reached Gold status in NZ and received wide critical acclaim.  He has supported and augmented Crowded House on tour.  In 2009 he was part of Seven Worlds Collide, a collaboration with musicians including Neil Finn, Johnny Marr and members of Wilco and Radiohead,

In February 2014 he was Musical Director of – and helped devise – The New Zealand Dance Company’s show Rotunda. He performed with that show at the Holland Dance Festival, conducting top Dutch band Brassband Rijnmond in three shows in The Hague and one in Amsterdam. That year he also scored the NZ/UK feature The Deadlands – directed by Toa Fraser.

This year he’s been scoring the up-coming Maori TV documentary Our Blue Canoe and released Lucky Stars in New Zealand which reached top five on the NZ charts.

McGlashan started the raw material for this album at a small beach house on the Thames Estuary, then realised them in Neil Finn’s writing room at Roundhead Studio, Auckland, with guitarist Tom Rodwell.  He produced them with former band mate and drummer David Long (who contributes some textural guitar, organ and banjo) and enlisted another previous collaborator drummer Chris O’Connor.  The results are very impressive.

Ten tracks on the album, all with a number of things in common – tightly-structured, evocative and well-crafted lyrics, about interesting people, relationships and observations.  Attractive melodies and winning choruses which are skilfully arranged and a consistency from go to whoa, which makes it hard to select highlights.  I will choose a couple, however, the compelling and upbeat title track “Lucky Stars” and the final song “The Waves Roll On” which is a beautiful ending (in more ways than one!), with McGlashan’s beautiful high-pitched and emotional vocals overlaying a slow, soulful ballad.  It’s reminiscent of the magic of Nick Drake:

If I should vanish

If my story was done

The waves would roll on

The waves would roll on

Don McGlashan eh?  I’ve now heard.  I won’t forget.  One of the best releases this year.

McGlashan has announced a short run of shows in Sydney, Canberra, Katoomba and Melbourne.  Tickets on sale now


Wed 11 Nov            Smith’s Alternative Bookshop  Canberra ACT

Thur 12 Nov            Petersham Bowling Club   Sydney NSW

Fri 13 Nov               The Clarendon Guesthouse   Katoomba NSW

Sat 14 Nov              Melbourne Folk Club @ Bakehouse Studios Richmond VIC

*Australasian Performing Right Association

Thanks to Annie Johnsson Publicity

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