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Like PJ Harvey's Let England Shake - a record that MacNeil confides she'd never heard until long after she finished recording - 'Rivonia' is an honest, courageous and expansive collection, that is as musically exciting as it is thematically determined. But unlike Harvey, MacNeil never distances herself from the scenes she depicts. Instead she places herself in the thick of them, while managing to appear impartial throughout, even in the face of the biggest horrors. Unlike other records written by white musicians and inspired by South Africa, Dear Reader's 'Rivonia' banishes broad, crowd-pleasing political strokes in favour of a specifically human outlook. At times troubling, at times deeply moving, 'Rivonia' is unafraid of raising more questions than it answers, and achieves this within the context of a collection of magical, dramatic, heartfelt songs. On City Slang.
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