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MUSIC Album reviews with Michal Boncza

Latest releases from Dutty Moonshine Big Band and Ma Polaine's Great Decline

Dutty Moonshine Big Band
City of Sin
(Universal Music Group)

THE 12-STRONG Dutty Moonshine Big Band’s second album City Of Sin is an entertaining melange of atmospheric, 1930s-noir storytelling, innovatively spiced with rap.

The fulsome voices of Maria Laveau and Hypeman Sage switch dazzlingly between rapping and big-band crooning to narrate, tongue-in-cheek, the tale of a gang of moonshine bootleggers on their way up in the criminal world.

The other 10 band members play out of their skins, invigorating the classic big band sound by infusing it with an array of eclectic sounds and genres, from cabaret to foxtrot to ambient, in glorious arrangements delivered with elegance and ease.

The love story Tommy & Loretta, accompanied by a stylish video, invokes the days of Philip Marlowe, while the coarse and metronomic Arrest spells trouble for the characters of the story but musical bliss for the listener.

Highly recommended.


Ma Polaine’s Great Decline
City of Love
(OMH Records)

CONTRARY to the band’s name, City of Love is a stupendous triumph from Ma Polaine’s Great Decline (MPGD).

MPGD are Beth Packer and Clinton Hough augmented by Pete Flood (Bellowhead, Oysterband) on drums and Martin Elliott on bass and theirs is a unique and fascinating musical proposition. Their mixture of cabaret, chanson, jazz and country places them in the milieu of Phoebe Killdeer, Giant Sand and Valparaiso.

Packer’s voice has a superb range, but it is her interpretative skill that entrances, with the effortless shifts that imbue her evocative lyrics with rare emotional charge.

Hough’s elegantly sensitive guitar playing weaves beguiling patterns, while Flood and Elliott anchor the proceedings with subtly shifting and distinctive tempos.

Be whoever you are, Paris Is Burning argues hauntingly, while Ghost Ship tackles the rise of right-wing politics of hate.

An absolute must.



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