‘Close Your Eyes’ is the brand new album from Bic Runga and the first release by new International Pop label “Wild Combinations”. Produced by Bic herself and Kody Neilson (The Mint Chicks, Opossom, Silicon)
One of New Zealand’s most revered and successful musicians of all time has created a psychedelic pop masterpiece mixing original material, and a selection of covers of her favourite songs, including tracks by Kanye West, The Blue Nile and Nick Drake.
Let me see, it was ten years ago at the MOJO Honours List in London. In a room filled with icons and legends – Scott Walker, Bert Jansch, David Gilmour, Roseanne Cash, Prince Buster. Sir Elton Of John craned his neck around a fawning Jon Bon Jovi who was trying to give him a Lifetime Achievement award. Nonchalant, he waved into the crowd at the diminutive Bic Runga. “I love her,” he said, “I really love you,” he mouthed. Later he would beam in a picture of the two of them together (Google it if you don’t believe me, his face is effervescent).
By 2006, Bic was already ten years into her career with a sagging mantelpiece propping up many an award back in her native New Zealand. And now, ten years after that she’s got some huge selling albums (now totaling in excess 20 x platinum in sales).
Plainly, she’s loved by knights of the realm and with a merit award from the Queen you’d think she may be aloof and a tad busy. But no. She rang earlier and she wants you to come over to her place for a record spinning session. It’s all her favourites but, in some dreamlike scenario she’s singing them all herself, fronting Love, finger clicking with The Meters, harmonizing like a Beach Boy as she re-interprets Françoise Hardy.
It’s a personal playlist that puts Kanye West alongside The Blue Nile, before she unwraps her innermost all over Ewan MacColl’s gorgeous ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’. It’s an intimate late night soiree, one of those treasured selections that might have only previously existed on a cassette – ‘specially made for you.
To add depth she includes a cover of troublegum exponents The Mint Chicks’ ‘Life Will Get Better Some Day’, she also has their Kody Neilson producing two of her own songs, the futuristic dream pop of ‘Close Your Eyes’ and the sunny period piece ‘Dream A Dream’. The mood is intoxicating, the phone is off the hook in case Elton calls. So, close your eyes, this time it’s personal.