By Poppy Tohill
Released Friday February 28th, 2014 - Sony
Having recently seen Benny Tipene perform at the Jim Beam Homegrown festival in Wellington a few weekends ago, I had a fair idea of what I was getting into when I agreed to review his debut EP- 'Toulouse' which is due for release this Friday, 28th February.
Although gaining third place on the New Zealand X-Factor talent show last year, that is no judgement of the amount of talent this young man possess. No offence to the winner's and runner up of the X Factor NZ and similar talent shows alike, but in my opinion it seems to be the third place getter who tends to do the best a lot of the time. (Definitely not always the case, but just an observation I have made over the past few years of watching these shows).
Focusing on the EP however, 'Toulouse' is a great collection of songs that truly showcase Tipene's exceptional ability and range of talents from both the instrumental and vocal side of things, mixing it up with a compilation of both head-bopping pop tunes and soothing ballads.
The EP begins with Tipene's popular single 'Make You Mine,' which I'm sure most of you would have heard onCoca Cola's newest summer television ad, by now. Following the upbeat single is a slow, soothing tune titled'Lonely,' which displays a more delicate and emotional side of Tipene's musical ability.
Quickening the pace once again, possibly my favourite tune off the EP, 'Embrace' begins softly, slowly building into an upbeat and dance worthy chorus.
EP title track 'Toulouse' is up next, with the return of the relaxed mood and setting, with a slower and soothing ballad that beautifully showcases Tipene's exceptional vocal ability.
Remaining with the easy-going mood, 'Fight For You,' another personal favourite reveals Tipene's emotional core, as his vocals blend perfectly with the calming acoustic rhythm.
The EP ends even better than it began to be honest. Closing track 'Better Side' features a beautiful melody and rhythm played by Tipene on acoustic guitar once again which is simply backed by his delicate vocals which range from high to low, establishing a perfect ending for a perfect first release.