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coverpic flag New Zealand - Full Moon 163 - 12/31/09

Jordan Reyne
How the Dead Live

Jordan Reyne tells the story of how Susannah Hawes came to live in New Zealand in 1874 on this stark album. Reyne takes the chance to explore our views on history and time and it makes for a fascinating account.

"The Witness" is the story of how history itself views Susannah's story and sees it as boring and loses interest in her. It's a pared, down spooky piece with Reyne's vocal at its most expressive. "The Brave" is Susannah's defense of the people that history ignores, the ordinary people. As ever the tune is soft and the melody barely a whisper in the dark. "Ghosts (Least we forget)" follows Susannah's husband to the Boer war, it's a place he didn't really go but might as well have. The song has the sound of waves and a restrained vocal by Reyne.

The closing "Remembering the Dead" sees Susannah sing to history itself as history closes the book on Susannah. 'You wouldn't wait for me/ Time can only bury me/In a borrowed grave/ under nameless trees...' she sings. Reyne's tale is mostly true, but also has elements of fiction so it enlightens us on how we tell stories of out dead. The ordinary lives are lived by extraordinary people.

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