Maala: Whaat’s In A Naame.

Successfully stepping out of well-fitting singer/songwriter brogues and into the dancefloor sneakers of electronic pop clearly requires more than just a change of haircut and footwear. Some kind of intervention and re-invention is needed. In the instance of Evan Sinton those two things came in the person of producer Josh Fountain and newly adopted persona of Maala. Eliza Beca caught up with Evan / Maala on the eve of the launch of his debut album.

Evan Sinton has been through a fairly significant musical metamorphosis in the past couple of years. While Maala’s first single Touch exceeds 1.6 million Spotify plays, search under his given name and you’ll find another release, ‘Phosphenes EP’, sitting in the low thousands.

That EP doesn’t just sit at the other end of the spectrum in terms of its listening figures. In fact, the only thing revealing that the same person is behind these musically paradoxical projects, is the distinctive vocal tone. Continue reading Maala: Whaat’s In A Naame.

Toni Huata: Kahungunu Maranga EP

If you ever get lost, the best advice given to me is to go back to basics and this is where Toni Huata has nailed what is good in music. Sing what you know, blend it in with the right instruments and harmonies, but most importantly, when you sing from your roots your message transcends beyond what you could ever imagine. The warmth of each song lifts any negativity from the air. The title track Kahungunu Maranga is originally credited to have been written by Huata’s grandfather. Odes to tipuna, whanau and iwi. Each song firmly holds the roots of these pillars in the jazz-country-swing styled writing. The EP is different to other albums of Huata’s as she explores tradition in this smaller set as opposed to her often more vast creations. A light refreshing EP that celebrates history and reminds us of how important it is to keep tradition and culture as precious memories and never forget them. • Holly McGeorge

Ny Oh: Lovely And Honest EP

Gorgeous melodies, male/female vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar, piano, whistling… it just sounds like a gift from heaven, an Ani de Franco or another Fiona Apple. This second EP from London-based Ny Oh is a stunning taster of her developing songwriting skills and spiraling vocal confidence. Former Tauranga girl Naomi Ludlow is a hopeful optimist, and operates with a charming naivety well illustrated by track titles such as I See Change, Dreamcatcher and Truth. Title track Lovely And Honest seems tailor-made as a soundtrack tune. The balanced sound of this EP likely owes to the production of fellow ex-pat Kiwi singer Jesse Sheehan, who adds his backing vocals and a buoyant sheen to the arrangements, without taking away the natural acoustic singer/songwriter/performer feel, or the authenticity of her songs. The minimal instrumentation is tastefully held back, allowing Ny Oh’s interesting voice to show off its versatility. Only four tracks here, the last I See Change being a hard-hitting spoken word hip hop-styled poem with an elegiac chorus. This is special. • Ania Glowacz