Wednesday, 16 August 2017

MADAM TSUNAMI

CD Review

Long Way From Home



Couple Adam and Coralie Usmani set about bringing a merging of cultures for their second full album. They have traversed the globe from New Zealand to Scotland where, fronting a collective, they are delving into the sounds of Scottish traditions while wrapping them up in their Auckland heritage.


Madam Tsunami
They have employed the help of some notable Scottish musicians, not least of which is Ross Ainslie, who brings his talent on the pipes and whistle which would give any offering an authentic Celtic flavour.

Adam and Coralie have a very relaxed and easy style which translates into their harmonies as they sing and play together.

Almost as if they want pay homage to their adopted home the gentle opening with Mama gives you the first feel for Coralie’s fiddle playing and Adam’s subtle guitar and piano backing. The soothing instrumental does conjure images of mists slowly covering the highlands.

The following track, Hold Me Close, introduces Adam’s strong, slightly gravelly voice which is tempered by the gentle sound of his wife’s tones. The song has a definite tempo, strengthened by Adrien Latge on drums, but is not overpowering.

Adam’s tone is softened for the title track which seems to blend even better with Coralie’s harmonies than the previous track. The tune is simple and almost playful and given a definite lift by the fiddle’s voice.

Man on the Run has a cadence which matches the title with a jaunty pace pushed along by Adam’s strumming and chased by Coralie’s fiddle. The couple have a knack of giving their music strength and yet keeping it really laid back so although this is a toe tapping song it’s not a foot stomper.
Adam Usmani

What follows is a brooding song with Adam bringing a melancholic tone to his singing on Blackfriars. The little vocal inserts he puts into some of the songs bring memories of much simpler times on the folk scene. Not quite going back to the hey nonny, nonny days but there is something reassuringly traditional about their style at times and the track does have a gypsy style accent to it.

Even though the title is French, there is something therapeutically laid back and siesta like about Carnaval De Nantes. It’s a gentle but remarkably evocative tune and although it does fill out and pick up slightly you are never willing it on to build any higher than it does.

The grittier tone of singing is back for Cinderella as the words express love for the title character. The song has a mixture of styles from the lounge sound of the piano to the European style mandolin notes from Innes Cardno.

Coralie’s ethereal fiddle playing introduces Fray and once again you get to enjoy the harmonising they do so well with their voices. There is a brooding sound to Adam’s lyrics which is lightened by his partner’s tones who also takes out the tune with a gentle insert on her strings.

Plot on the Moon is a slightly off the wall political song which does have tones of Steve Knightley from Show of Hands and Luke Jackson. The Brexit song asks the pertinent question ‘Britannia what have you done?

There is almost a reggae beat to Shotdown but once again the couple have put their subtle cover on it which, for this album at least, seems to be their trademark. It seems they are firmly lodged in the camp of ‘less is more’.

Waiting for the Day is a slightly laboured song which sounds even more like Jackson than the previously mentioned track. It’s the only track on the album which is not easy on the ear and seems to stretch Adam to the limit of his vocal range.

The new album
The album finishes on Living Memory with probably the most subtle pipes you are ever likely to hear. Anyone who things they can only be harsh or rasping should listen to Ainslie on this track. Adam’s voice has a touch of the Van Morrison’s about it and it does, at times, come across that he is trying too hard to inject emotion into his singing.

If there is one thing missing from this album it’s Coralie’s turn to take the lead on the vocals. You get a hint at the gentleness of her voice through the harmonies and backing she provides but it would be interesting to hear her at full tilt.

Madam Tsunami do subtlety to the nth degree, but commendably enough they never lose any strength or clarity on what is an extremely enjoyable album.


Long Way Home is available now from the band’s website and www.Birnamcd.com