Saltwater Band: Malk – review


The blind Aboriginal singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu released his debut solo album two years ago, and since then he has become successful far beyond Australia, selling more than half a million albums. His second album is released at the end of next month, but is preceded by this intriguing, if uneven reminder of what he was doing before he became an international celebrity. He was working with Saltwater Band, a group from Elcho Island, off north-east Arnhem Land, led by another singer-songwriter, Manuel Dhurrkay. This is their third album, a cheerful fusion of reggae, gospel, pop and occasional echoes of indigenous styles, with many lyrics in the language of the Gumatj people. Much of the instrumental work may be unremarkable, and some of the pop-reggae forgettable, but there are patches of strong vocal harmony work, as on the gospel-edged Djilawurr. Predictably, the best contributions come from Gurrumul himself, with faster, more upbeat versions of several songs from his solo album. The backing may not be up to much, but he's in fine, soulful voice on the reggae-edged Galiku and the emotional ballad Wirrpangu.


Robin Denselow

The GuardianTramp

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