Dear Reader: Rivonia


rivoniaDear Reader
(City Slang)

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With a flourish and fanatic devotion, Dear Reader is an intimate epistle, an album with unwavering love in mind and instrumentation to provide the necessary mood. Rivonia at first is a survivors’ guide, decadent with jumping harmonies, big band flourishes and captivating squeals from the accordion. “Now that I understood/Every man will just do as he wants,” the singer extols toward the end of the album, choosing to issue warning and enable broken hearts.

Rivonia¬†is a discussion of the apartheid in South Africa, choosing the daunting task of representing the human hearts caught up in the messy politics. “Mother, my brother is dead in the gutter/Mother, my father is down in the ground/Down under, mining” searching for a place amidst the shifting environment.¬†Rivonia¬†is successfully wrought, it doesn’t fall victim to a too extreme position, it is merely a well-crafted catalog of events. The songs are optimistic by being detached.

Evoked emotion aside, Dear Reader is a product of international influence. The music on¬†Rivonia¬†is a marriage of elements that are often times left off pop music — chants in the background are the most powerful here to compel the concept album to stick together. Dear Reader is a band that once discovered needs to be seen live to affirm that the music is authentic, and then frustratingly there is a reminder that they’re from South Africa.

“So they came in the dry cleaning van/And they took them away,” is representative of the album. The dry cleaning van is innocuous, but a representative of what should be the normal, the everyday mundane, but it isn’t picking up and dropping off laundry. Where there is piano on Rivonia,¬†it is sweeping and somber and where there are horns, they are funereal and big. As with most successful concept albums about political and societally-troubling matters,¬†Rivonia¬†is large and encompassing.

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