July 16, 2024

Te Mana is an R&B, Rock, Reggae fusion band, formed in April 2018, after musicians Shannon Thompson (Lead singer), Rawhiti Turnbull (Guitar), Shane Tane (Drums), Roland Kapene (Bass) and Tanielu Pula (Keys), collaborated one night in a backyard somewhere. Spreading a message of love, peace and unity, the band’s music addresses their ancestral calling to stand up and represent diversity. Te Mana has written a number of original songs, and have released 2 singles while they work on their upcoming EP and album releases.

With a steady barrage of new music flooding the airwaves every day, it takes a special catalyst to transcend beyond anonymity. So what makes a new artist cut through the white noise in music today? Disregarding all the hyped marketing elements which have nothing to do with music, authenticity and originality are prime contenders in a sea of clones.

Add in real instrumental craftsmanship and vocal abilities, together with actual songwriting aptitude, and we’re already in rarified air. As these tasks are usually assigned to a number of different people to complete on behalf of the artist. Finally having something to impactful say can make all the difference.

Surprisingly, Te Mana as a group are able to deliver all of the aforementioned elements in bucket loads. They play the instruments while writing and performing their songs, in which they have a whole lot to say within the themes they affront.

Quite honestly they have all it takes to “cut through the white noise in music today”. Recently my ears fell prey to the group’s single “When I’m Not There” – a truly soulful and captivating experience.

There’s a major difference between embodying a sound and exhibiting or embracing one.  Assembling lyrics and tailoring sounds may work temporarily, to show off your wares, but eventually, the truth will emerge when you need to connect with listeners.

Te Mana totally inhabit their songs, both musically and lyrically, so when Shannon Thompson, in this mid-tempo love ballad, sings a common and simple phrase like: “before I go I just wanna let you know, you have all my love, while I’m here to stay,” it resonates with authentic heartfelt sincerity and emotion. Proving that you don’t need to paint cryptic lyrical images to dazzle and audience, you just need to be real to gain their empathy.

For anyone with a pulse and a pair of working ears, a song like “When I’m Not There” is pretty hard to ignore. Te Mana weave a shimmering smooth instrumental foundation, upon which they build a pyramid of mesmerizing melody and harmony. The chord progressions, along with the grit and throaty edges of the vocals, carry a thread of edgy, intimate emotional catharsis.

Meticulously arranged, this record is a radical makeover of some of Te Mana’s more famous peers, who have all but lost their way. It is also a sterling continuation of the band’s ever-widening palette, and an affirming statement of their potential in a barren genre begging for this level of artistic contribution.

“When I’m Not There” is damn near as close to perfection as any I’ve heard recently. For a group that sounds so effortlessly, yet deeply invested in their craft, look for Te Mana to be driving the sound of 2019.


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