Reviews of ‘Dig A Hole’


Leila’s debut album received blazing reviews in New Zealand and Australia. Following live recordings from Wellington’s International Jazz Festival Performance, her music was broadcast nationally on television and radio.

‘A unique mixture of jazz, pop, gamelan and bossa, full of striking imagery and delightful dissonant, droning harmonies,’ Sunday Star Times *****

Debut Album, 2003

Reviews of DIG A HOLE

Rip It Up, Zoe Winkler, Feb/March issue, 2004

Dig A Hole

Few debut artists are as daring as Leila Adu, who supplies the piano and vocals on the recently released Dig A Hole. Dissonant chords and unpredictable melodies fill the 11 tracks Adu has produced with her five-piece band. The Wellington-based songwriters voice is reminiscent of Joni Mitchell or Nico, while her style remains unique. A mixture of jazz, folk, and bossa nova blend with the lyrics on friendship, longing, and make-believe. Although not nearly as radio friendly as fellow young jazz-vocalist Norah Jones, Leila certainly has created a sound for herself unlike any other.

The Sunday Star Times, Grant Smithies, 18th May 03

Dissonant delight

What better place to start than Dig A Hole, the debut album from a highly original Wellington-based singer and pianist Leila Adu ( Hear this record once it stays stuck in your head like a dentists filling.

A unique mixture of jazz, pop, gamelan and bossa, full of striking imagery and delightfully dissonant droning harmonies, the nearest reference point lies somewhere between sad-eyed Brazilian crooner Astrud Gilberto and London-based avant-pop darlings Stereolab.

There are songs concerning love, loss, spirits, and angels, poisonous anger, hot sex and cold regret, and Adus voice is extraordinary throughout. Both tender and terrifying, Valentine contains the line You could be much braver than you are. Adu is addressing a lover, but she might also be issuing a challenge to a host of lesser pop contenders.

The Dominion Post, John Kennedy, 1st May 03

Dig A Hole

ALTHOUGH Newtown gallery/venue The Space is moving home, it still finds time to release challenging music from within its ranks. Singer pianist Leila Adu sits at the helm of a cracking five-piece band. Unlike their music in the fiercely improvised Ectasy Trio, here the rhythm section of Tom Callwood and Chris OConnor lay out some artful rock beats that nail down Adus unpredictable structures. On the best tracks, like Suspended Disbelief, Adus vocals plough through the music maze with picture-perfect, yet disarming, phrasing. Her voice is as distinctive as any youll hear on these shores dark, sonorous, uninflected and unflinching somewhere between PJ Harvey and Joni Mitchells folksy-jazz, though assuredly her own. The musical sobriety makes few concessions, bar some spells of black humour and the dreamy verses of Sweet Indulgence. Still, with Adus singular voice and courageous song writing, its an impressive debut.

Beat Magazine (Melbourne) Shane Moritz, 17th December 03

LEILA ADU is New Zealands Queen of Soul. This young lady does spellbinding melodies and cryptic rhythms from a grand piano. She has a hypnotic voice, moderately spiced, sprinkled in firewater. Some call it sultry, and it is, but its also heavy and soothing and gets under your skin in the most welcoming way. Dig A Hole, her self-released debut, is a strange fusion of edgy soul and stuttering beats, complimented by moody strings and an incomparable intensity that smoulders under smoky, stage lights. The title track is a whir of tempos clashing, guitars and strings jerking and pulling, eager to implode until finally it does. The CD has received good support from prominent NZ figures like the legendary Chris Knox, who said her music was interesting and new. Leila Adu plays at the Pony Bar on 18 December with Silver Ray and Sir and on the 20th with I Want A Hovercraft, Amo and Man Madelake.

Contact, Julie Jacobsen, 19th June 03

Between the dark and the delicate

FOR anyone familiar with the local jazz scene, Adus self-funded debut (thanks too to Creative NZ) will come as no surprise.

Unfortunately, everyone else will probably demand some sort of offshore stamp of approval before Dig A Hole gets too much airplay here. The album is worthy of a whole lot more.

Like Laura Nyro and Nico, or modern-day doppelganger, righteous babe Ani diFranco, Adu inhabits that non-pop world that sits between the dark and the delicate, the erratic and the elegant.

Accompanied by a talented gang of long-time Wellington musos including Tom Callwood, Chris OConnor, Chris Palmer and cellist Francesca Mountfort, the singer-pianist travels the tortured path of love, anguish and self-doubt with a voice thats as much frown as it is teardrop. Discordant and dissolute, precious and poetic. You go girl!

Check www. for purchasing details.

Live, Lucy Parr, 12th June 03


Dig A Hole

Local pianist, Leila Adu with back-up percussion group release Dig A Hole by SPACE in 2002. An expressive and emotive album featuring a 5-musician concoction. Leila herself responsible for composing both the songs and lyrics. The group features an extensive mix of piano, cello, drums, guitar, bass and percussion as well as Leila and her diverse vocals.

The album starts off with a nice deep jazzy intro and from there each track progresses through a range of genres. From funky to soulful to Latino to heavy, dark gothic styles. The tracks are an intricate and complex mixture of instrumentals and mix-match of beats and tempos. They lead from soft tip-toeing and subdued to heavy, deep frantic climaxs and back down again, continuing their loose instrumental style. All lead by Leila and her unique vocals. In a similar style to the instruments she demonstrates a wide range of pitch, tone and expression. The overall effect is a multiple-layered sound.

Leila Adu and her back-up musicians are definitely talented so look out for an opportunity to see this group live, its guaranteed to be a spirited performance. The album is smooth, clean and well recorded. Finishing off with a very experimental, expressive key track Dig A Hole; a funky intro building up into a heavy chaotic track, confidently demonstrating their full range of ability.