Holly Macve - Golden Eagle - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Holly Macve - Golden Eagle

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:6 Release Date:2017-03-03

Hailing from Ireland by way of Yorkshire, young Holly Macve is making a bit of a buzz with her debut album Golden Eagle. Despite the descriptors, this doesn’t remind me so much of country or folk as much as twangy torch: melancholy, staid, and bleak. The songs, with only two exceptions, the single “No One Has the Answers” and “Heartbreak Blues,” (two of the best songs on here) reflect her fascination with the open spaces of America; which could be described as, at least in part, flat, monotonous, and unending.

With her yodeling voice, a lilt she draws upon far too often, Macve reminds me of a folkie Lana Del Rey with a hint of Maria McKee, singers with unique, drawling, lazy deliveries, much more so than Patsy Cline (with whom she’s often compared), largely because the latter had plenty of range in her growling, crooning, playful, yodeling pipes. This is a problem as much with her voice as the songs in which she employs it. In short, this album drags from one yodeling dirge to another. Furthermore, her songs lack the kind of tight structure that country or folk music requires, thus rendering her songs as some odd mash-up of Joni Mitchell-esque open-ended jazzy poetry with dust bowl country themes.

While it was obvious that the production wanted the focus on Ms. Macve’s vocals, keeping the relentlessly sparse arrangements on the down low, this backfires. Song after song of delicate soft melodies are left buried beneath her drawling, whiny yodel, instead of supporting them properly. A song like “Shell” gets it right. Starting like the others; Macve’s voice accompanied only by a strumming acoustic guitar, it soon transforms into a more complete picture, like those slowly developing Polaroid photos from days gone past. The song rises to a new level as the chorus begins and from out of the depths, a somber yet strong violin rises up to meet her voice, and it’s beautiful. This album needs much more of this kind of instrumental richness and strength.

Like cooking with certain spices; a little goes a long way and those spices need components that can compliment them properly. The violin parts are nice, and maybe something truly powerful, e.g., the chilling steel guitar of Ry Cooder’s haunting handiwork, would be just the thing. Indeed, had she not relied so heavily on her voice alone, this might’ve been a much better album. As it is, it’s a whole lotta yodel and a whole lotta not much else.

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