Cast a Line
Cast a line delivers a fine haul of songs Cast a line is the new CD from Wellington, New Zealand singer-songwriter Laura Collins. It shows off her warm, powerful vocals and original songs backed by a line-up of top musical talent. The album finds the artist moving between darkness and light, intimate and upbeat, casting lines, uncovering beauty in the debris and learning to love her own 'bag of bones'. While it's musical roots lie in Americana - alternative country, bluegrass and a touch of zyedeco - Cast a line nonetheless has a distinctive New Zealand flavour that comes from living on an island, open to the sea, the mountains and the elements. It's a Wellington album: the gorgeous 'Relying on the Wind', underpinned by the shimmering sound of the Weisenborn guitar, finds the singer standing on Lyall Bay beach, hoping wind and water will wash away the after-taste of a failed romance. But it has a very different sound from the 'Wellington school' that the rest of the country has become familiar with, one that owes it's allegiances to the likes of alt-country women Lucinda Williams, Alison Krauss and Stacey Earle. Laura Collins is known as the driving-force behind the South of the Divide concerts that have showcased alt-country music to enthusiastic Wellington crowds in recent years, and while producer Steve Cournane (CL Bob, Windy City Strugglers, Warren Love Band) has infused her songs with a veritable melting pot of old r & b, reggae, jazz, bluegrass and pop, if this album has to be catergorised then it probably sits in the alternative-country bag. The Coalrangers' Dean Heatherington adds his distinctive guitar and mandolin to give the album it's country and bluegrass flavours. Matthew Newman, Laura's sideman in her previous band Urban Ruby, lays down the masterful electric and acoustic lead lines. George Barris on electric and upright bass - always the master of taste - works with well-respected drummer Steve Cournane to give the album a solid and inspired engine room. Wellington guitar-maker Paddy Burgin adds the wash of the ocean to the album with his handcrafted Weisenborn guitar, and other contributions come from Julian McKean, Nils Olssen, Elliot Fuimaono, Carol Bean and Vicki Knight. Even though the lyrics at times go to dark places and wrestle with self-created demons, Collins delivers the songs with enough lightness, wry humour - and love - to make Cast a line an enjoyable, upbeat ride and a good soundtrack to summer. Engineered, mixed and mastered by Robbie Duncan at Braeburn Recording Studio, this album blends back-porch acoustic instrumentation with electric drive and takes us down to the beach to ponder life. Reviews of Cast a Line Review from The Wellingtonian, Dec 21, 06 Absolutely perfect Cast a line Laura Collins Ruby Music Co Reviewed by Dave Burgess Judging by Laura Collins' latest album Cast a Line, she is the capital's underground Queen of alt-country. The disc is superb and there isn't a dud song amongst it's 12 tracks (one of which is an acoustic guitar gem hidden at the end of the record). After 2003's One Feather at a time, Collins disappeared off my musical radar. Some of that time she spent on a pilgrimage to the US states of Louisiana and Texas where she absorbed the local vibes. She is obviously something of a musical sponge because she has returned to create a wonderful album that looks at some of the rough edges of her life - stories of failed love affairs and personal demons abound. The songs have been stripped back and then re-arranged by Dean Heatherington, Steve Cournane, Matthew Newman and Collins herself, resulting in a collection that has room to breathe their beautiful magic. The album is littered with perfectly placed mandolin, banjo, saxophone, and acoustic, electric and weisenborn slide guitar breaks that bring Collins' self-penned songs to life. Her voice conjures up a blend of Alison Krauss and Lucinda Williams on lyrics that often contain typical Kiwi images. For example Relying on the Wind sees Collins standing on Lyall Bay beach hoping the wind and water will wash away the aftertaste of a failed romance. If there is a musical God in this world then Cast a Line will be heard by a wide audience as it is simply a stunning album ***** (Excellent) More about Laura Collins Laura Collins cut her teeth in the late 80s Wellington folk scene playing with Robbie Duncan and Alan Quinn, then went the electric route with rock/blues band Wild Blue in the 90s. A later duo with guitar player Dave Murphy was the beginning of her foray into the country- blues and alt-country genre where she has found her style and voice. She has spent the last eight years working in this territory with her previous band Urban Ruby, particularly alongside New Zealand based American guitarist Matthew Newman. In 2002 she began writing more seriously and penned most of her first album. She furthered her long time association with Robbie Duncan as he then engineered, mixed and mastered her first album, One Feather at a Time (2003) at Braeburn Recording Studio. Always having been 'just a singer' eventually became too much of an impediment to getting out there and playing her own songs, so she returned home from a pilgrimage to Louisiana and Austin, Texas with a Taylor acoustic guitar and has been making friends with her ever since. The songs on Cast a Line were written on her return from that trip. Laura says, 'I'm interested in songs that have a true emotional vulnerability, and in telling stories that delve into both the dark and the lighter sides of human nature.' The tone of Cast a line ranges from a confessional intimacy to the exuberant celebration of being alive.