After Loyal, Hopetown is probably your next purchase in the Dave Dobbyn catalog. Trouble is, Dobbyn is better with words than tunes, so Hopetown lacks in the latter department, although its quiet eclecticism offers moments for the faithful and the new. Piano-led opener "Just Add Water" is reminiscent of Paul McCartney. The upbeat jazz "Alive on Arrival" nods toward Van Morrison, while "I Am I Am" tackles New Orleans blues. Former Dudes sidekick Ian Morris' physical production is so animated it's as if the band is playing in front of you. Dobbyn's brand of Kiwi rock pops up on "Name of Love" and one of Hopetown's killer cuts, "My Kinda People," with a rockin' intro and distorted vocal. One of the better pieces on The Islander, "Beside You," is emulated in "Kingdom Come." Whether a joke or not, "Love Like the Moon" traverses new domain with a '70s Stylistics sound, harp-like piano, and a swoon vocal. Song of the Show, however, goes to "Someone Else's Pain," an acoustic soul tune with New Zealand coloring and a belting good vocal between Dobbyn and Marina Davies.
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AllMusic Review by Kelvin Hayes