In the 60s, we were regaled by the Singing Nun. In the 70s, we all got lashed on Blue Nun. From the 1980s, however, nun-related fun went turbo-charged and excitingly un-convent-ional with the advent of now-legendary New Zealand label, Flying Nun Records. Home of acts, such as The Clean, The Verlaines and Look Blue, Go Purple, it's always provided a mark of quality, on which having a speculative punt never feels like a risk. Amelia Murray, aka Fazerdaze, perpetuates that fine reputation with her blissful dream-pop debut, "Morningside".
The origins of Murray's introspective, DIY recordings are often talked about as a 'bedroom project', so "Morningside" rather aptly has the quintessence of the boudoir. It contemplates with intense privacy, diarising some of Murray's self-effacing concerns, as well as having an ambience of late-night rumination, or of fuzzy, early-morning half-awakenings. It possesses that luxuriously indulgent feeling you get when you hang around the house in your skanky pyjamas all day. With reverb-laden, snoozy soupcons, and with the intermittent grunt, of Best Coast, The Breeders, Belly and Mazzy Starr, "Morningside" would serve as a great hangover cure on an otherwise-ruined Sunday morning.
Coming to terms with young adulthood, and the transition away from more simplistic youth, provides significant material. The album title itself cites the suburb of Auckland where Murray finally felt settled after distinctly itinerant wanderings. Much of the lyrical content is self-examining, such as the brilliantly own-arse-kicking "Friends", with wall-of-noise guitars accompanying the lyric, 'You know I'm sh*t at having friends./ I'm sorry, I can only do my best.' "Jennifer" pines for a lost childhood companion, with an array of bittersweet memories, followed by the aching repetition of the movingly simple, 'Miss you so bad'.
Opening track, "Last To Sleep" and closer, "Bedroom Talks" both have a propulsive, hypnotic quality, the former restless and insomniac, whereas the latter is imbued with the birdsong that reminds you of talking through the night - the sort of confessional intimacy that can only be shared with the right person. "Shoulders" is a tentatively-tender love song to a sleeping partner ('Wake me soft, wake me slow,/ Fade me into focus'). "Lucky Girl" throbs with the breathlessness and beating-heart bassline of genuine desire.
The lyrics of "A Little Uneasy" feel burdened with the constant pressure of having to sort your life out, while the song's musical arrangement makes you feel like a blissed-out Labrador, supine in a pool of sunlight near a bay window. In it, Murray repeatedly sings, 'I'm still feeling my way'. If this album is Murray still feeling her way, then haphazard scrabbling is blatantly the way forward.
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.