Ngambala Wiji liWunungu
Shellie Morris & the Borroloola Songwomen ABC/UMA ★★★★✩
THE first release in a series of Song Peoples Sessions, government and NGO-funded collaborations between contemporary and traditional Aboriginal singers, twinned Warren H. Williams with the Warumungu Songmen of the Barkly/Tennant Creek region of the Northern Territory. The ARIA-nominated Winanjjara drew attention to the endangered language of the country singer’s paternal grandmother. In the sister album Ngambala Wiji li-Wunungu (Together We Are Strong) Shellie Morris teams up with the Borroloola Songwomen to put the spotlight on the disappearing Gulf tongue of her grandmother, which is spoken fluently by fewer than 10 people. The album shares the template of its predecessor, established by executive producer/project creator Patrick McCloskey and music producer/audio engineer Tim Cole. CD1 comprises ballads, written and sung in Yanyuwa by Morris with guidance and backing from local songwomen, that celebrate stories, melodies and rhythms from her ancestral clan. Ambient keyboard washes and gentle electronic beats mesh with strings, didgeridoo and percussion to provide atmospheric beds that accommodate perfectly a marriage between Morris’s soaring voice and the otherworldly harmonies of the songwomen. In tracks
Jiwarrmanji [The Wind is Blowing] and Ngabujiyu a-Kurija [Nanna Song], Cole intertwines the contemporary and traditional elements together with the skill of a master weaver. CD2 offers an anthropological journey, featuring 58 short tracks containing traditional song poetry recorded by the 11-piece Borroloola Songwomen.