Glenn Bathgate. Nelson Mail, (17th October 2011)
Review: Delgirl, Saturday, Neudorf Winery.:
Not even rain could dampen my enthusiasm in seeing this Dunedin three piece again. I say “again” as I come from Dunedin and I opened for Delgirl in one of their early shows. The rain stopped as Delgirl cruised on to the stage. The melancholic opening number Railway eased the set open. It generally takes a lot to win me over in a live band situation but I was sold after the first few bars of the second song. The upbeat Ride got the feet a-tapping and the faces a-smiling as I couldn’t help thinking that Delgirl could just as easily be at home in the back bar of a smoke-filled Dunedin pub. They played songs from Porchlight and Tui-winning best folk album Two, Maybe Three, Days Ride plus new EP Funky Pea. It rained again second set, which kept sound man Bob Bickerton’s cronies briefly busy catching the drips. Original Delgirl members Erin Morton (guitar/vocals) and Lynn Vare (banjo, ukulele, bass drum, snare and vocals) shared the song writing duties and their songs interwove beautifully, telling stories of relationships, human nature and even dementia and the effects of war (I Was Only 18), which nearly resulted in some salty residue rolling down my cheeks. They cleverly framed their stories in a tuneful way. New boy on the block, John Dodd’s (double bass/vocals), added so much with his experienced fingers and his Swandried harmonies.I loved the relaxed easy-going banter between songs as Delgirl drew the audience in and made us feel like we were in their lounge awaiting pudding which they’d handmade and delivered. John was my guitar teacher at Dunedin College of Education in the 90s. So, am I biased in my reviewing? Probably, but with such beautiful songs, great lyrics, clever harmonies and good old Otago down-to-earthness, Delgirl would’ve won over even the harshest critic. It’s all about the song.
Brent Strathdee. Rip It Up, Issue 343 (Oct/Nov 2011)
DELGIRL Freaky Pea EP:
Freaky Pea is a laid back folk-pop four track EP with a mellow vibe. It’s a smooth listen, well produced and has a nice array of instruments (banjo, ukulele and trumpet alongside the guitars, drums and double bass). I like the combination of skank, slide guitar and banjo on “Temptation’ and I like the metaphoric lyric “if you need space why don’t you indicate? Instead you speed and slow and hesitate” from ‘Road Rage’. This Dunedin band would be great to see in the right late night cafe or restaurant, it’s really relaxed. Produced at Albany St Studios.
Bing Turkby. New Zealand Musician, (2011):
DELGIRL Freaky Pea EP
Now with new double bass player John Dodd (who replaced Deidre Newall), Dunedin’s trio Delgirl retain their beautiful harmonies, engaging songwriting, varied instrumentation, and gender-specific band name. As they themselves observe “ a group of 40-year old women never really were girls anyway.” Starting with a deliciously acoustic ska-style guitar, incorporating those great vocal harmonies, and even a bit of trumpet and banjo here and there, this album caresses your ears. Here is a band with the power to make you cry with a song (I Was Only 18) that appears to be about senility and sadness. As stripped-back and emotional as a front-porch conversation with an old friend. Following on from that is Temptation, with a wistful banjo sound (not often you hear a banjo being wistful…) that brings to mind January Wedding by The Avett Brothers. Sounding at times like a Jolie Holland album, this 4-track EP showcases typically quirky songs that combine folk, country, and pop.
Delgirl and Francisca Griffin at Iona Church 22nd May - Review by David Starkey. dunedinmusic.com 24 May, 2010.
Chris Chilton. Southland Times, (7 May,2010):
One of the charms of Delgirl’s music - and there are many - is the effortless chemistry between the voices of Lynn Vare, Erin Morton and Deirdre Newall. They merge amid an earthy, intoxicating mish-mash of roots styles that defies description. Porchlight is as Kiwi as cabbage trees and summer ocean breezes, its songs gently wafting with whimsical abandon, rich and evocative. It’s fitting that it was recorded in the naturally wild surrounds of the coastal Catlins, in Ross McNab’s Sweetway Studios at Owaka. It’s as if the heady brew of bush fragrances and salt sea air has infused Delgirl’s songs. The ocean, the stars and the wild green yonder are everywhere in their intimate, engaging lyrics. Morton’s Take Me To The Railway is a lovers’ casual stroll down the tracks by the sea. Saltwater on skin provides an erotic edge to Newall’s Sippin’ Blues. There’s much more of the same in Honey, which positively drips with passion remembered over the breakfast table. Vare buries her love in She Cried, lamenting her overwhelming loss to the sun and the sea. The women’s voices blend sweetly and seamlessly in Dying Seal and One Long Day, while the lyrics tell stories of death, betrayal and other natural states. Beauty and fragility, romance and regret, love and loss. Delgirl’s music aches and exalts in places we’ve all been. It’s a wonderful album.
Fleur Jack. Rip It Up, (Issue 334,April/May 2010):
Porchlight depicts Delgirl as a beautiful lady band that are sophisticated in their musicianship, tune penning and arrangement skills. The band consists of three women who share the songwriting duties. They all offer a distinct flavour, giving it a really unique charm. Although you get three different styles of song and singing sound, the flow and consistency between tracks is cohesive and they do sound like a band rather than individuals. The album rolls together as if it could have been from one teller. Their country melodies are relaxed, their harmonies are thick, and all three voices complement each other well. The overall tone is friendly and warm. The tracks ‘Take Me To The Railway’ and ‘Bonny Girl’ are instantly catchy, and the storytelling invokes imaginative places. While ‘Pedro’ offers a song from the perspective of a bull, which is fun, there are also more delicate songs like ‘Away’ and ‘Blood Is Holy’. This will be the album to reach for to change and lift your mood, make you smile and make the world a lighter place. To be honest, you may even be caught waltzing yourself around the living room while listening to it.
Brenda Harwood. The Star Holiday Guide, (December 2009):
Dunedin folk-alt country trio Delgirl are back with a new and more mature album in Porchlight. Recorded in the Catlins over winter and released a couple of months back, Porchlight showcases the growing confidence of Deirdre Newall (double bass, bodhran), Lynn Vare (percussion, snare drum, tenor ukulele and banjo) and Erin Morton (guitar, trumpet and ukulele). Characterised by Delgirl’s trademark close harmonies and featuring songs by each of the three band members, Porchlight explores the human condition through such topics as freedom, murder, love, childhood and more. Stylistically, the album ranges fairly widely, encompassing sounds of country music, bluegrass, laments, folk and gospel. The overall feeling is that of coming home to a warm fire. Delgirl’s first album Two, Maybe Three, Days Ride won a Tui Award for best folk album last ear and Porchlight is a worthy successor.
Matt Davey. The Press,(24 Dec 2009)
Go Music - Matt on track.:
(we made Matt’s top ten albums of the year) Delgirl - Porchlight. Southern trio write super folk-blues-country songs overlaid with airy harmonies.
Kara Segedin. NZ Musician, Vol. 15, no. 4 (Dec/Jan 2010):
As the follow up to their Tui Award winning debut, ‘Two, maybe Three Days Ride’, Delgirl have created a patchwork of perfectly crafted home-grown acoustic songs. ‘Porchlight’ was recorded in the depths of a snow-filled, South Otago winter over two weeks, produced by Nick Bollinger, recorded and mixed by Ross McNab at Sweetway Studios and mastered by Dale Cotton. All songs were written, arranged and performed by band members Deirdre, Erin and Lynn. This multi-talented trio moves effortlessly from drums to ukulele and vocals, from trumpet to guitar and banjo, building their folk-country-blues songs. Each of the women shares song-writing duets leading to a nice mix of voices and styles held together by strong three-part harmonies and visual lyrics. The trio work well together and as long time friends are a natural fit for each other vocally and musically. Railway stands out for its understated beauty, while the stripped back Sister Mother is a gospel infused track built on double bass, vocals, a dash of guitar and simple percussion. Sunny, happy tracks like Honey are needed to stop the album from being too mellow and keep things moving along at a pace despite the hefty, 15-track listing. Overall this album is delightful in its simplicity. There are no fancy tricks here - just good, honest back-to-basics songs and music.
George Kay. Real Groove, Issue 187 (December 2009)
Southern belles conjure up darker, tantalising second album:
It could be called the sophomore album syndrome - the pressure of proving your debut wasn’t the proverbial one trick pony. Dunedin female trio Delgirl’s first outing, Two, Maybe Three, Days Ride, was a refreshing burst of South Pacific folksy bluegrass skiffle amonst the legions of hopeful young punks and rappers that dominate the debut ranks. As a follow-up, the girls decided to get-it-together-in-the-country-man by recording Porchlight with producer Nick Bollinger in the Catlins in mid-winter. The porch light metaphor may be a down home country image of refuge and resassurance - and sure, infectious moments like Lynn Vare’s banjo motif on the wonderful Bonny Girl, the bluesy hoot of Sipping and the south seas ambience of Honey are all irresistable Delgirl moments. But many of the album’s most powerful moods emerge from the shadows beyond the lighted porches as in Deirdre Newall’s raw blues vocals on Sister Mother and Erin Morton’s evocative lone trumpet on the moving One Long Day, leaving the aching melanchology of Away as confirmation that Delgirls can do anything.
Gavin Bertram, Delgirl - Porchlight - Album Review Dunedinmusic.com 7/12/2009
Graham Reid, Elsewhere, 4 November (2009):
This trio from Dunedin impressed on their debut album two, maybe three, days ride which saw them nominated for a Tui award and, as I noted at that time, it was a real step up from their first EP. This even better album — 15 tracks — confirms what I have always believed, the more you work (ie play, perform and record) the chances are the better you will get. There is a musical maturity here in the arrangments for voices, and the acoustic instruments which include double bass, ukuleles, banjo, simple drums, guitars and the like. Working an area which is not quite alt.folk or alt.country but has elements of both (alongside touches of gospel vocals on the disturbing Sister, Mother, and a smidgen of folk-blues throughout), Delgirl have created their own musical space. One Long Day (over banjo) is a subtle and refined lyric about the end of a failed relationship which gets added poignancy when the lonely trumpet comes in; the lovely Take Me to The Railway has a melancholy yet optimistic feel (and some neatly forceful musical undercurrents); there’s solid and gutsy quality to the tough minded Sippin’ Blues; and the delightful Waiting (“I was hoping you’d come to save me …but you didn’t seem to know the way to find me”) should be a summertime hit at dusk while you watch the sun set into the ocean.The rather plodding She Cried is repetitive in the manner of many traditional Anglofolk songs. Did nothing for me, and at great length.
Perhaps living where they do explains the images of Nature which are everywhere here: there is barely a lyric which doesn’t mention the moon, the sea, the stars, the tide or a field and so on. And that will mean for some they broadcast on a narrow frequency, we might say.But the sympathetic production (Nick Bollinger), the quiet diversity of the material (the slight Pasifika feel to lightly risque Honey, the pure pop of Stars which lifts a phrase from the Beatles for their own ends) and the beauty of these voices in harmony or counterpoint effortlessly lift this into the frontline of the finest local albums in a very good year. There is power in simplicity. Delgirl are touring this album (see here for dates) and on the evidence of Porchlight I suspect that on the night they will be very special indeed.
Grant Smithies. Sunday Star Times, 1 November (2009).
It’s amazing that a record as warm and welcoming as Porchlight emerged from the heart of a Southland winter, but there you go. The second album by Dunedin-base trio Delgirl, Porchlight was recorded as the snow fell at Owaka, deep in the Catlins, and to play it in your own house is to pull up a chair in a bright warm place while the harsh, cold world rages outside. What do you call this stuff? Urban folk? Alt-country? Southland gothic? I just call it very good indeed. Delgirl is Deirdre Newall (double bass, bodhran), Lynn Vare (percussion, snare drum, tenor ukulele and banjo) and Erin Morton (guitar, trumpet and ukulele). All of them sing, and when they all do it together, their harmonies cling as close as a barnacle to a boat. As the voices lock together and lift off, you hear distant, but distinct echoes, of Scottish and Irish traditional music, English ballad singers like Vashti Bunyan and Anne Briggs, Appalachian bluegrass, the old-as-time vocals of Gillian Welch, even the wartime swing of the Andrews Sisters. The trio’s Two, Maybe Three, Days Ride debut album quite rightly won the Tui for best folk album last year, but this is a far better record, with stronger songs, darker atmospheres, and less cramming in of too many styles. By eschewing the last album’s diversions into rockabilly, western swing or overly comedic material, the band has made Porchlight a more satisfying and coherent listen with the complementary songwriting styles of all three carefully braided together.
Homesickness, love, family, envy, loneliness, childhood, death - these are songs in which familiar themes are approached from fresh and decidedly female angles, and the writers have developed the confidence to be direct, rather than clever. One of the album’s most poignant love songs moves quickly from a simple metaphor contemplating the night sky, crowded with stars, to the simple statement that “I love only you; it’s you I love.” Such directness hits you in the heart like an arrow. Closing track “Blood is Holy” nails a parent’s protective feelings for their child in just 13 short lines. It speaks the truth without a single wasted word or sound. After I finished weeping like a sook, I called my son to tell him how much I loved him. And just as the lyrics here are seldom overworked, the arrangements are winningly sparse, underlining the central mood mood of each song with broad strokes: the soulful acoustic bass, the gentle south seas ukulele, the percussive banjo, the mournful trumpet. Subtle production from Nick Bollinger and engineer Ross McNabb frames each song like a freshly-cleaned window.
Only two songs disappoint. “Pedro” and “Sippin’ Blues” adopt an unfortunate faux-raunchy growl, but these are the sole mis-steps in a sparkling collection. I’m told this trio is even better live: they’re finishing off an album release tour with three gigs around Auckland, with a national tour in February.
Shane Gilchrist. Otago Daily Times, 17 October (2009):
For their second album, Dunedin trio Delgirl continue their intimate embrace with jazz, country, gospel and Pacific flavours, but add a grittier, southern Gothic feel to the mix. Recorded over winter in the Catlins, Porchlight doesn’t so much drift along as seep into your skin. Senses are tickled by the earthy clank of banjo, brushed snare and woody bass as three-part harmonies lift intricately woven compositions skyward. Having pocketed the 2008 Tui award for debut album Two, maybe three, days ride, the group could well return to the podium on the strength of their latest 15-song batch.
Ross McNab. Speech at the Porchlight Release,(16 Oct 2009):
I recently had the pleasure of recording and mixing Delgirl’s latest album. with Nick Bollinger from Auckland producing. The recording was mostly completed in two weeks and it took six weeks to mix. How should I describe the sessions? There was sunshine, sweat, snow, anguish, emotion, confidence, questions, excellence, food, champagne on ice, whiteboard organisation and Delgirl on a cupcake! So what is this album that you are all going to buy? Many people love to put labels on songwriters and performers. Is this music Alternative Country? Alternative Western? (tongue firmly in cheek) Pacific Soul? Rock? Blues? New folk? Old Folk? It is all and none of these. Delgirl just are….! Take from them what you will. Here is my description of “Porchlight” for you…. It’s politics without the lies It’s revolution without the violence It’s fun without anyone losing an eye It’s whiskey without the hangover It’s conversation without the pretence It’s a riot without the arrests It’s raw and emotional It’s sweet and sour sauce on fudge cake It’s musical jeans in a tumble dryer It’s where Texas meets Aromoana It’s drugs without anyone inhaling It’s sisterhood It’s a kiss on a winter’s day Above all for me, it’s weightless on your heart. So step inside these songs, take your shoes off, stay a while, and walk around this very southern and very kiwi album. The journey is worth it. It’s honest, it’s surprising, it’s witty, it’s powerful, it’s tongue in cheek, it’s dark, it’s real, it’s fun,…… and it’s very, very strong.That is not a coincidence, because…… so is this band. So thank you again for coming out to support the launch of this stunning album and please put your hands together for the FABULOUS…..DELGIRL
Lynette Diaz, Review of the Christchuch Folk Club Gig, by NZ Women’s Acoustic Collective 12/10/08.
Warren Brown. Waikato Times, 9 February (2008):
Three Dunedin women got together in 2000 to play music. After dozens of gigs, a bit of busking and a live EP, they have finally produced a studio album. Each contributed five compositions. The media release that arrived with the album call the sound “a blend of folk, roots, blues, jazz and alt country music”. But it could be better described as three Kiwi women having fun, playing the kind of music they enjoy. It is largely an acoustic album, with the women playing a double bass, guitar, banjo, ukuleles and snare/percussion. For decades, Dunedin bands have had a reputation for ignoring international trends in music and doing whatever interested them artistically. As a result, the city has produced some extraordinary music, much of which is rarely heard north of Christchurch. Delgirl continue this tradition. They produce laid-back, good-time music that focuses on life in Dunedin. Their vocal harmonies are tight and their musical approach inventive. The album has style, charm and a quirky take on life. Highlights are Erin Morton’s Sin, Lynn Vare’s Miss Harris and Deirdre Newall’s Between Earth And The Sky. Hopefully Delgirl will make the two, maybe three, days ride to Hamilton to showcase their talent.
Simon Sweetman. Dominion Post, February (2008):
Delgirl is the name of a three-piece from Dunedin. This talented trio of female musicians straddle more than one genre, but it is probably safest to refer to their recorded sound as an updated version of skiffle; equal parts country and folk with a rockabilly spirit and some traces of swinging acoustic jazz. Deirdre Newall, Erin Morton and Lynn Vare all sing- and the harmonies are lovely - but also, between the three of them they contribute double-bass, snare drum and percussion, trumpet, ukulele, banjo and guitar to the proceedings. This is the band’s first full-lengther (that I am aware of). I had previously heard their EP Live at the Wunderbar (recorded at the titular Christchurch venue). But this full album really builds on that sound, the production is lush, the songs are strong - and for people who have enjoyed the likes of The Be-Good Tanyas and Tres Chicas it is nice to know that there’s a Kiwi band cut from a similar cloth.
P.M. Berry. New Zealand Musician, Vol. 14: 1 (Dec/Jan 2008):
Featuring the talents of Deirdre Newall, Erin Morton and Lynn Vare, all three contributing songs and the instrumentation which makes up a small folk band sound. With only the snare from the drumkit and coloured with ukeleles (the lower end with standup bass), these laconic strummings, stories and structures become quite enticing - they get under your skin until a nice hypnotic ’skinky’ feeling sinks in. Perhaps at the suggestion of the various pleasantly loose ukeleles, there(sic) a touch of the Pacific, but there’s a bit of The Big Easy here too. Uncontrived harmonies and lead vocals, sweet and sometimes lamenting lyrics, all add up to something quite original and whimsically appealing. The music really does sound like it was born on a NZ beach, around a bonfire, and is imperfectly perfect. My favourites are well in, and are nice ‘n dark, being Sin, Old Fool and Made to Measure It’s a kind of Louisiana sound wrapped up in the heartland of NZ, which in this case, is Dunedin. Recorded by Tom Young, mixed and mastered by Dale Cotton.
Martyn Pepperell. Groove Guide, Issue 199 (5-11 Dec 2007):
Some bands have good musicians, some bands have a great attitude. Delgirl has both, but even better their new album Two, Maybe Three, Days Ride has a refreshingly comfortable vibe to it. What really sealed the deal is the way this trio of acoustic female musicians have tackled the natural New Zealand accent in their style. Delgirl beautifully represent who they are and where they come from without delving into any of the cringeworthy territory normally associated with some long term natural accent advocates out there. You know who you are. Two, Maybe Three, Days Ride is riddled with gorgeous vocal harmonies and smooth groove driven playing utilising the very bare bones of percussion. Should you be searching for local music with an expansive, rural and earthy sound to it, I would strongly suggest an afternoons picnic engagement to the countryside soundtrack that is Two, Maybe Three, Days Ride.
Nick Bollinger. Listener, (15 Dec 2007):
Sitting around a kitchen table with a guitar, a bottle and a couple of singing, strumming friends has been the recipe for many a pleasant night but has rarely produced a good record. But Delgirl succeed in evoking the casual flavour of a singalong while subtly crafting something more complex. For one thing, the women who make up this Dunedin trio harmonise like sisters, matching one another phrase for phrase and falling automatically into intricate parts. And while the almost all-acoustic backing of guitars, ukuleles and double bass has the woody tone of a table-side jam session, the clever arrangements give each song its own character. Standouts include the push-and-pull reggae of “Promising“, the country lament of “Ride” and the ironic storytelling of “Sin“, simultaneously evoking Flannery O’Connor’s American South and New Zealand’s Southland.
William Dart. New Horizons, National Radio, 9th Nov 2007
Shane Gilchrist. Otago Daily Times (24 November 2007):
At the time of writing this, the temperature in Central Otago is climbing past 30degC, confirming the impression Dunedin trio Delgirl provide on the cover of their debut album, Two, maybe three, days ride, that should you decide to wander off into the hinterland, you best take a couple of friends with you just to be on the safe side. The 15 songs that comprise the album are similarly sunny yet, like ultraviolet light, there is danger within them, too. To love is to risk being hurt, is the implied message. On that lyrical tightrope the trio often tread, to the strains of double bass (Deirdre Newall), guitar and soprano ukulele (Erin Morton) and tenor ukulele and percussion (Lynn Vare). Delgirl have been playing for several years and the tight familiarity of the ensemble is clearly apparent. All three members contribute equally to the album; some of the songs are old gems, some are more recent. They are both polished and dusty, suggesting a verandah and a wine or two was involved in the creative process and, ultimately, that is perhaps how the album would be best enjoyed. Recorded by Tom Young (aka Freddy Fuddpucker, a Dunedin performer with an ear for skewed country songs) and mixed by Dale Cotton, Two, maybe three, days ride merges jazz-country lilt (Ride), white-girl gospel (Sin), finger-picked folk (Old Fool) with relaxed, bluesy strains that benefit greatly from the vocal ability of all three members. Lyrics, intimate and direct, are taken to another plane by sumptuous harmonies. File under classy but unpretentious.
Nick Bollinger. National Radio - The Sampler (13 Nov 2007):
(Ride) really has the feel of friends lounging about, swapping stories and instruments and spontaneously bursting into song. Which is pretty much how Delgirl started out, but their real achievement is retaining that flavour for seven years and managing to capture it on disc in tracks like these. (Because we touched). Delgirl are based in Dunedin and consist of three women musicians. Deirdre Newell, Erin Morton and Lynn Vare. All sing, and their voices fall naturally into the kind of warm, three-part harmonies you hear in these tracks. They also play a variety of instruments, including drums, ukuleles, banjos and trumpets. But the predominantly trebly, high-strung sounds are almost always underpinned by Newell’s double bass, which gives the rumbling, almost-reggae feel to a song like this one. (Promising). While Delgirl unquestionably have a sound of their own, there are a few other groups I can think of that might make them feel less alone. The three voices, folkish yet adventurous instrumentation and the whole homespun quality of the music reminds me at times of the Canadian trio The Be Good Tanyas, particularly in a track like this. (Old Fool). While the three members of Delgirl marshal between them an impressive array of instruments, they also invite the occasional guest into their sitting room. And this track (Between Earth and the sky) features some Hawaiian guitar from none other than the Chills’ Martin Phillipps. Delgirl’s album is called Two, Maybe Three, Days Ride and it’s a low-key beauty. While it has the loose, spontaneous feel I’ve mentioned, it was, in fact, shaped in a studio, by Tom Young and Dale Cotton. And the more you listen the more the little details become apparent; the kind of deliberate sonic punctuation marks that make the difference between a kitchen singalong and a recording, of the type you want to listen to over and over again – which is exactly what this is.
Graham Reid . elsewhere.co.nz Nov 2007:
This Dunedin-based, folk-country three-piece of Deirdre Newall, Erin Morton and Lynn Vare impressed with an earlier EP Live at the Wunderbar which hinted at something special, but wasn’t quite strong enough to be placed on Elsewhere. But that promise has come with this album of close harmony, suggestions of alt.country and Polynesia, understated balladry and smart lyrics. The gentle Promising has the merest hints of Polynesian percussion behind the reggae-referenced rhythms, elsewhere they bring harmonies to wonderfully melodic and sometimes jazz-influenced originals, and with Between Earth and Sky (Martin Phillipps on slide guitar) they have a classy tribute to Hank Williams. Music like this –acoustic, folk harmony, ukulele-lovin’ –can often come off as twee but this one will woo and win you.