Claudia Robin Gunn is a singer-songwriter from Auckland, New Zealand, and her new album "Sing Through the Year - A Little Wild Childhood", is quite superb. It features twenty-five original songs brimming with poetic charm and delightful melodies. The album harnesses themes of nature, weather and the seasons into one colourful journey for children and families. The music has a lovely rich vibe, and the lyrics are imaginative and inspired throughout. The album is beautifully sung from beginning to end, and also benefits from the thoughtful arrangements and excellent production of Tom Fox.
The album kicks off in superb style with the enchanting "Apple Tree", a song that is both funky and atmospheric. It begins with the delicate picking of an acoustic guitar, before the bass and drums arrive with a vengeance to really shake things up. The lyrics tell the story of a child who grows her very own apple tree, and then delights in the sheer magnificence of the result. "Everyday is a Dance", is another fine song, rich in rhythm and pop sensibility. There truly is plenty to dance to here, as we are informed that 'everyday is a great day.' Like all innovative songwriters, many of the songs are like short stories, dragged from the past, and then tossed into a sea of melody swimming in nostalgia.
At times the sentiment is more instructive as in "Kind Words", where we are informed that 'sweet words will warm our hearts', unlike 'cruel words' which 'send shivers'. This song gives the listener time to pause and reflect, reminding us that we all have a moral responsibility to be kind to each other. Here a gentle keyboard and a sparse bass provide the required space for the intricate guitar work to really shine. Alternatively, "Happy Place," offers more of a feel-good approach, with a sprightly tune bouncing along in quiet contentment, fondly remembering our 'beach of dreams' under 'our sky of blue'.
Although the album presents itself in the traditional acoustic singer-songwriter style, the music is at times eclectic and difficult to define. From the acapella delivery of "Kids In Autumn", to the more lively and uplifting "Hello Neighbourhood", there is plenty of light and shade on display. The music always appears to be on the move, continually searching for a new and more inspired route to fully complement each song. The arrangements are forever restless, ever in search of a new harmony, a string section to add more texture, or an imaginative bass line for additional impact.
Of all the songs on the album, my personal favourite is the truly endearing "I Love the Rain," a heart rending song of outstanding beauty. Here poetry meets melody head on, and is delivered with a deep visceral connection of real substance. As Bob Marley once famously remarked, 'some people feel the rain, 'others just get wet'. Few songs could express the validity of this statement with more accuracy. Not only does the artist feel the rain, she describes it with such veracity, it makes me almost miss British weather.
Continuing on this theme, "The Weather Report", reflects on the type of weather we have no doubt all experienced, and does so with a gentleness of touch, and a lightness of delivery that is both inspired and informative . The lyrics are superb throughout, with the kind of flair and attention to detail that would charm perhaps even Thomas Hardy. There is an almost mystical tone throughout the song, where once again, poetic verse combines with potent melody to leaving the listener somewhat dazed and confused but never bored.
"Save The Daisies" has similar appeal, with a gentle acoustic guitar, immersed in a sea of harmony adding sweet resonance to the lyrics. Such detailed descriptions are a major strength on this album, where the artist manages to capture memories from the past so vividly that it leaves the listener spinning in a sea of nostalgia. "Camping Holiday" continues this approach, with candid negotiations between parent and child revealing opportunities for adventure that arise when there is 'no school no kindy tomorrow'. Perhaps somewhat ironic in the age of Covid.