Barbara Manning

In New Zealand

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True to her collaborative form, this "solo" effort from Barbara Manning is more like a transpacific one-off supergroup of indie rock without the goofy moniker -- not that any of the much-respected but commercially overlooked artists from New Zealand (the Clean, the 3-D's, the Verlaines) and the States (Calexico) could add hunks of prestige to the record via a stronger association with its creative genesis. To all but a few music geeks these artists speak in obscure musical tongues, so In New Zealand's truth in packaging ultimately matters little. Just call it a Manning solo effort for simplicity's sake and be thankful for the effort. Those interested will find many tender and sometimes bleak and bitter moments on this 1999 Communion release. The metaphorical meat of "Your Pies" (penned by Manning and New Zealand alpha-rocker Chris Knox) is perhaps the toughest of the set, while sweet and sour cuts like "Whatever I Do Is Right/Wrong" and "Everything Happens By Itself" make up the blunt, poetic main course of this minimalist feast. When fans of Manning begin digesting the simple truthfulness of In New Zealand, a familiar, sated feeling will result, and the name listed above the title will seem appropriate.

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