Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu - Gurrumul

Richard Wink 16/09/2009

Rating: 4/5

A blind Aborigine singer songwriter, nephew of Mandaway Yunupingu and fast becoming an icon of Australian music, Geoffrey Gurummul Yunupingu is a unique voice. Listening to his music is a truly spiritual experience, his vocals calming, relaxing and dream like. Unlike a vast majority of Aboriginal musicians his music appears to stay away from the protest song. Mixing a variety of dialects and odd bursts of English Yunupingu instead sings from the heart, talking about his homeland, his family and his personal experiences.

The majority of the songs on Gurrumul are carefully paced acoustic folk. Often just one man and his guitar with the occasional use of double tracked vocal; the sparseness combines particularly to great effect with the pathos displayed on 'Bapa', a song dedicated to Yunupingu's late father. His poignant and perhaps awkward finger picking style provides the base of simplicity for his vocals to soar above.

It is worthwhile again talking about Yunpingu's astounding vocal performance, calm yet authoritative, this is not the voice of a shy man, yet Yunpingu away from music is a man of few words, but these words are painfully honest. On 'Gurrumul History (I Was Born Blind)' Yunnupingu displays faith, though he cannot understand why he cannot see, he believes his disability was decided by a loving God, in a roundabout way he is saying we should be thankful for what we have, no matter what our limitations might be.

If one has to pick faults with Yunupingu then those of you that are restless listeners might struggle to find enough variety in Gurrumul. On the flip side to that, when you consider Australia has recently provided retro turds such as Jet and Wolfmother then a legitimate artist such as Yunupingu is most welcome. Each song on the album is gently crafted, displaying a serene mix of restrained beauty alongside a tone of heavyhearted spirituality.