Stanley Gawurra Gaykamangu is playing at Garma next month, an Indigenous festival in Arnhem Land. Perhaps Garma’s most magical spell is how far the men’s evening song carries: straight and powerful through the stringybark trees like a spear. I can only imagine how Gawurra’s husky voice – justifying comparisons to Gurrumul – will pull people from their campsites to him to feel in full what I do just hearing him on record: as though everything is going to be OK.
Described as a “gentle and genuine young leader”, this is the East Arnhem Land singer’s first album, produced (with a fairly heavy hand) by Darwin’s Broadwing. Gawurra sings exclusively in the Gupapungu language of his culture and family history in places like Gove Peninsula, Yathalamara and Milingimbi Island. The title track is a traditional Yolngu songline about the vine of love that keeps everything connected.
“Ratja Yaliyali is a spirit, like the wind,” reads his bio. “A melody Yolngu listen to when they want to feel spirit in their hearts”.