The Conscious Roots compilations have brought together a selection of roots music particular to Aotearoa’s time and place. The first one, released in 2004 ‘showcased the growing full band live roots music scene in Aotearoa / New Zealand.’ This 30-track, double-disc bumper release compiles eighteen tracks from the five volumes of Conscious Roots and includes twelve fresh offerings from emerging artists.

The ‘best of’ showcases the development of roots music in Aotearoa over the last eight years and includes some of the future classics you will find yourself singing along to. In the sleeve notes, compiler David Allan states ‘the song selection has been determined by lyrical meaning and musical flow rather than popularity’. The idea of ‘conscious roots’ definitely holds the selection together, with all the songs exploring themes of identity, culture and social justice.

All the tracks are top quality, but some stand outs for me are ‘Rua Kenana’ by NRG Rising, ‘Feel the Rhythm’ by Soljah, ‘Island in the Sun’ by Nga, ‘What about the Children’ by House of Shem and ‘Hand in Hand’ by Native Sons. This is a great platform for some younger and less established bands to get noticed alongside stalwarts of the scene like Katchafire, Unity Pacific and Trinity Roots.

The sleeve notes fold out into a mini poster of artwork by Dave Allan – a beautiful portrait of Benita Tahuri from NRG Rising. This compilation is well worth having in your collection. The top notch selections are diverse enough to keep you inspired by some of Aotearoa’s finest musicians of this soul-felt roots movement.