Holly Macve – Not the Girl (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 47:36 minutes | 525 MB | Genre: Pop, Country
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Modern Sky UK
Hands up if you’re a sucker for music that rips your heart clean out of your chest, throws it to the ground and, without mercy, cha-chas all over it. Fans of said genre may already be familiar with the deep timbre of Brighton-based alt-country’s Holly Macve; new recruits are going to catch on quickly by way of cinematic new album ‘Not The Girl’.
Having taken ample time off between records to explore and re-arrange her sound, Holly’s second album is dressed in a multitude of textures ranging from yearning heaviness over moody, tear-stained moments to grunge-infused dreamscapes.
Deeper and darker than debut album ‘Golden Eagle’, ‘Not The Girl’ is laced, not only with a firm sense of direction, but a distinct air of intent: Holly Macve is reaching for higher ground. An ambition that is most notable on title-track ‘Not The Girl’ with its slow-moving dramaturgy, but it’s on murder ballad ‘Behind The Flowers’ that Holly shows the full extent of her songwriting prowess. Entirely fictional of course, the track tells the haunting story of a girl who kills her abusive father. Dark imagery gives life to even darker imagination (“the last word he said was the first time I felt free”) and creates a sense of morbid fascination –a definite must listen for true-crime lovers and amateur detectives.
Holly Macve’s dreamy music is almost impossible to categorize. She could fit neatly next to Lana Del Rey, with her low rasp and languid pacing. But that rasp can also twist and twang like Patsy Cline or Gillian Welch. And there’s no way not to draw comparisons to the gauzy, ’90s psych-drone stylings of Mazzy Star. On Not the Girl, the follow-up to her critically respected 2017 debut Golden Eagle, the young Irish singer-songwriter explores more expansive—and darker—territory, but that darkness is often shot through with rays of sunlight. While Golden Eagle was written in her bedroom when Macve had really only played open-mic nights, this time around you can hear the benefits of having toured and performed with other acts, including a full symphony with Mercury Rev. She also seems to have picked up some of that band’s desert-noir vibe, especially on songs like the excellent “Daddy’s Gone,” an almost gospel meditation that turns, in the end, into a bit of a girl-group swing. Opener “Bird,” with its stacked vocal layers and slightly blurred harmonies, gives Del Rey a run for her money in the high-drama chill-out department, as does the title track: All cool synth and slow, moody drums, it steps into the sun with its wide-open chorus. Macve uses that sweeping move to great effect also on “Sweet Marie,” which starts off with a (comparatively) propulsive marching beat and low siren, only to free up and soar near the end. Piano ballad “Eye of the Storm” highlight’s Macve’s smoky qualities with pretty strings, “Behind the Flowers” comes on like a modern spaghetti Western soundtrack, and catchy “Who Am I” is surprisingly upbeat. Sometimes Macve’s songs feel so ethereal you’re not sure if they just happened. The waltz-like “You Can Do Better” is a sweet haze, while “Be My Friend” drifts up and off at the end, like smoke floating away into the sky. It all closes out with the lovely “Lonely Road,” which flows as gentle as a backyard creek. – Shelly Ridenour
01. Holly Macve – Bird
02. Holly Macve – Eye of the Storm
03. Holly Macve – Be My Friend
04. Holly Macve – You Can Do Better
05. Holly Macve – Daddy’s Gone
06. Holly Macve – Little Lonely Heart
07. Holly Macve – Sweet Marie
08. Holly Macve – Who Am I?
09. Holly Macve – Not the Girl
10. Holly Macve – Behind the Flowers
11. Holly Macve – Lonely Road