Friday, July 23, 2010

Sound Advice: Holly & the Heathens at the Hi-Tone

Posted By on Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 11:19 AM

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I've always liked Holly Cole's blend of girl pop, classic rock and hard corn honky tonk but her first EP Fearless and Free left me a little cold. With the exception of "Turtle Dove," a sweetly crafted study in old school twang, the songs all sounded a little murky and too much alike. Even Cole's full bodied voice couldn't make me fall in love with the disc the way I wanted to. And there was so much potential on display on Fearless and Free that I really wanted to.

Cole's second release, the eponymous Holly & the Heathens, represents at least the partial fulfillment of that initial promise. It's an alluring hodge-podge of sounds and styles that show off Cole's considerable talents while suggesting that this is an artist who's still slugging it out with her influences, trying to figure out where she fits. Standout tracks include "Make Up Your Mind," a folk-psyche ballad that calls to mind Burning World-era Swans. "All That Was Lost" begins with the freight train rhythm of an old Johnny Cash song but plays out as an answer to “As Long,” from , The Reigning Sound's first CD Break Up Break Down. "All in One Day" is a hip shaking exercise in classic rock while the beautifully arranged "Holy," is a spare waltz for guitar and violin that closes this completely satisfying disc with a classic country music koan: “How do you sleep at night when your baby's aching?” Well, how do you?

Holly & the Heathens is a thoughtfully arranged, beautifully sung tangle of yearning and heartbreak. Cole and company celebrate its release on Saturday, July 24th at the Hi-Tone with Jeffrey James & the Haul.

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