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Album Review
Champagne In Seashells

Champagne In Seashells
by Liam Finn and Eliza Jane


Review Date
30th October 2009
Reviewed by
Hayley Koorts


Call it a curse or a burden, but carrying on the torch of the musical machine that is the Finn family’s legacy never really seemed optional to young Liam. When you are lucky enough to grow up in a nurturing environment with a Noah’s ark of instruments and first-hand exposure to the joys of making music, it’d be a bit of a waste to study accounting.

Granted, the usual smear campaigners citing blatant nepotism pop up every now and again, but no one’s paying them any mind. You’ve got to give credit where it’s due, and the ever-pensive bearded offspring of our own homegrown rock royalty hasn’t diluted his creative juices or relied on “family connections” to get him where he is today.

“Champagne in Seashells”, as its opulent name leads us to believe, is a decadent memento of Finn’s recent Having a Baby tour with fellow comrades Lawrence Arabia, Connan Mockasin and his current creative other-half, Eliza Jane. Being an EP, Finn & EJ (as she is known affectionately) have selected an enticing handful of tracks, showcasing the effectiveness of their artistic synergy and leaving me more than a wee bit intrigued. “Long Way to Go”, their latest release, comes in at number two on the album. There’s even an offbeat instrumental piece tagged onto the end of track three which conjures up images of evil seagulls descending along a savage coastline while a Haitian witchdoctor conducts a bit of black magic (listen to it and you’ll get it).

The pair share more than just harmonious ideas about music in common. They both understand what it’s like to start out in the footsteps of an already famous parent (she calls Aussie rock legend Jimmy Barnes ‘Pops’) and contend for acceptance as a separate musical entity. Another thing they have in common? They’ve both pulled it off.

Clearly Finn is doing more than just vie for the rights to the next Team New Zealand anthem. When possible, he’s spiced the songs up with unconventional sound effects or instruments, just to keep us guessing and dodge the shackles of squeaky-clean Kiwi folk-pop (unfortunately for Brooke Fraser, they threw away the key). There is something charmingly familiar about this sound – and I’m not alleging plagiarism – that makes me second-guess whether I was listening to these same songs back in the day. The lyrical poetry and emotive chords were obviously gleaned from his old man, but not before reinterpreting them to suit his own artistic pursuits. The young whippersnapper can sleep easy knowing he’s managed to honour the family name without compromising his individuality. Having a famous musician as a parent has certainly helped him get one foot in the door, but the rest can be credited to plain old hard work, dedication and truckloads of passion.

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