Mahinarangi Tocker: The Mongrel in Me
By Pauline Berry
Mahinarangi Tocker is an integral New Zealand artist and this double CD is a collective of her current body of work. As referenced in the title, these 29-tracks consciously express her Maori and Hebrew/Celtic heritage via the songwriting, choice of instrumentation and arrangement ideas, all the while showcasing Tocker's unique lyrical vocal style. A mixture of jazz and folk, in her own direction, as Joni Mitchell is in hers (more folk than jazz). Tocker either writes or co-writes all songs, as well as playing a variety of instruments. There are too many collaborators and contributors to mention, though one notable guest is close musical relative Shona Laing who sings lead on My Love Be Still. Some songs are wistful as they speak of self-worth and curt when expressing the opposite; surely paranoia, as on Talking. From Good to Wrong is a favourite as it distills many of the unique characteristics that are Tocker's sound and style. Overall the production is effective and worthy of such a variety of tunes. Recorded at the busy Braeburn Studio in Wellington, the album is available through Jayrem.