International music review website Divide and Conquer had this to say about Far Far Away.
The six-piece Wellington, New Zealand folk outfit The Wooden Box Band has recently released their latest record Far Far Away, which the band members noted was a departure from the sounds of their previous records (the band has been around in some form or another for a decade now) because different members of the band are writing songs and bringing a new feel to the music they play. This is always very important for a band that has been around for a time and wants to explore new avenues of what they can do with their collective energy instead of continuing to keep it all focused on the same old same old year after year.
The opening track “Jubilations Choir” is a slow and somber bit of beautiful folk and alt country brilliance that stays with you long after it’s done. A very beautiful way to open a record and when the rest of the backing vocals come in it is awe inspiring as to what vocal melodies can do. Next on “Soap and Cigarettes” The Wooden Box Band go for a more upbeat bit of country folk that is as catchy as it is delicately beautiful. This gives way to the darker themes of the song “Pitchfork” whose murderous lyrics are beautifully chilling.
The Wooden Box Band definitely knows how to keep things diverse and they do it with a flair for every single nuance that the folk genre has to offer without having to imbibe in too much kitsch. They get rolling and rollicking on the good time “Jackhammer” which has that old time folksiness to it but also a romping good time provided by the band singing together and the jolly addition of the piano and brassy notes of trumpet. Later on in “The Storm” a soulful and sad melody these same instruments play a part in setting the darker tones.
The Wooden Box Band has really shown the positive results that can come by through musical collaboration. Each song on Far Far Away is wonderfully crafted to portray the different moods that folk and Americana can exemplify. A very rich sounding record too it is a must for anyone looking to hear what so many musical minds working together can create. A truly wonderful record.
Divide and Conquer. November, 2018.
Music guru Graham Reid had this to say about “Old World” in 2013.
Wellington guitar maker and musician Burgin has recorded some understated and finely crafted albums of what he calls “Kiwi urban folk” or “unoffical Kiwi folk” and after his 2009 album My Sweet Town we had him answer the Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire here to point to his more recent one Gentle Landings.
This time — again with a reliable cast of equals on bass, fiddle and percussion — he once more looks to the local landscape and characters in songs which address the Pike River mine tragedy (the poetically understated title track which has a sentimentality but never once errs towards the mawkish) and the 19th century Scottish-born sheep rustler James McKenzie who was imprisoned in irons (but pardoned because of, that great New Zealand tradition, flaws in police procedures).
The album is punctuated in a couple of spots by very engaging instrumentals — notably the slippery and gentle Say My Name — but what also stands out is Burgin’s way with a lyric.
In Bound for Glory we get, “Houses on the hillsides, who knows what lies behind the curtains and the balconies and the shutters and the blinds, Yet somewhere in that far-ago I still hear her sing, her voice so free and high above, a kite without a string”.
Lovely image, and there are others equally as good throughout.
And The Wave is a reflective song about letting go of a loved one (with a melody which could be pushed easily towards cabaret in one direction or a jazz standard in another).
As befits the title and cover image, there is a pastoral and historic feel throughout — Song of the South Island River, Daughter of Henry about a wartime love on foreign soil — but the closer Little Favours is a timeless song about that fear of committment some have and the inevitable separation.
Once again Burgin has written an album of understated, exquisitely played songs.
You suspect he will never do anything less.
By Graham Reid, posted Dec 1, 2013
Here’s what NZ Musician had to say about “Gentle Landings”.
Paddy Burgin and the Wooden Box Band: Gentle Landings
Wellington musician/instrument maker Paddy Burgin is well known around the traps for his work with slide guitars and mandolins. This is his third solo album, and sees an assembled cast featuring members of Little Bushman, Phoenix Foundation, The Nudge and Jessie James & The Outlaws. There’s a soothing, tranquil feel to the acoustic-based music he creates – a warm cabin with friends together around the fire. This 11-track set features three instrumentals underpinned by his Weissenborn slide guitar. Elsewhere are songs about places and the land – witness the slow moving ode to Lake Taupo, Cool Water, or Boulder Bank. These songs have a rich folk, sometimes country vein, and like his instruments, are all finely crafted. Most of the album was recorded live with Lee Prebble (The Surgery), and mastering was performed by Mike Gibson.
My Sweet Town reviewed by Nick Bollinger
Paddy Burgin is an old fashioned artisan, a luthier or guitar maker who’s guitars are played worldwide. This is a lovely record with a small group of musicians he’s gathered around him over the past couple of years. On instrumentals he weaves Pacific tones from his weissenborn instrumentals, with the remainder of tracks offering poetic reflections on stories and places that might be familiar.
By definition you’s call him a singer songwriter but there’s more than just a man with his muse going on here. For a start the playing is superb, jazz like in its detail and you realise the songs are not just personal statements but something far more communal…. a vehicle for a group who are really listening and responding to each other. All in all My Sweet Town is a warm gentle, and very musical set. Handmade music of the finiest kind.
Graham Reid from Elsewhere magazine says: ….
Internationally successful guitar maker by day and guitarist by night, Wellington’s Paddy Burgin last year got this very classy package which comes with a beautifully presented booklet of lyrics and a tie-in DVD by film-maker Costa Botes, the man behind the excellent film of the Windy City Strugglers, the up-close and personal footage of Nigel Gavin in his A Job with the Circus DVD, and the live film which accompanied Dave Murphy’s Yes, That’s Me CD/DVD package.
Burgin is equally deserving of such attention as this album — gentle but probing lyrics delivered somewhere between James Taylor, Ry Cooder and less cynical Loudon Wainwright — is an understated gem.
His guitar playing is revelatory: with ease he traverses blues, folk, slide, suggestions of Hawaiian sounds and old time jazz, touches of country . . . .
While many will find the four instrumentals intelligently placed throughout as the highpoints (notably the lovely Waikawa, or the late Davy Graham-like Wigtoft), there is also an interesting (and in the local singer-songwriter world, rare) depth to these lyrics.
The folksy Four Corners with its almost archaic language is based on letters between Sir Apirana Ngata and AH Reed in the Forties; and while Evelyn could be read as to a lost lover it is in fact a lyrically refined and lightly metaphorical tribute to the painter Evelyn Page. The Anglo-folk styled title track says more about the social and emotional cost of so-called “property developers” and their rapaciousness than any worthy Historic Places Trust report.
Willie Nelson could do worse than cover the languid but deep The Big Parade, it sounds written for him and Burgin delivers it in a manner akin to Nelson’s behind-the-beat and deceptively lazy-sounding style.
Assisting Burgin is a classy and sympathetic band (guitarist and banjo player Justin Clarke tours with Age Pryor, double bassist Tom Callwood is in Little Bushmen) which sometimes keeps its distance and simply interpolates telling saxophone, banjo or viola parts.
It appears here somewhat belatedly (I only just received it) but it is timeless, tasteful, intelligent and rewarding. It should travel far.
By Graham Reid, postedFeb 15, 2009
And here’s a link to Graham Reid’s famous Eslewhere Questionaire posed to Paddy Burgin.