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Holly Arrowsmith - Gig Review: Holly Arrowsmith @ The Tuning Fork 5/09/15

16 Oct 2015 // A review by Andrew Smit

The evening kicked off with Tom Cunliffe, shining bright and all alone with his guitar and flowing beard where he bravely produced a set of stirring and emotive songs filled with themes of torment, greed and loss. Tom sings with a smooth grit that is tender and expressive and it works well to expose the deep content of his songs subject matter. He apologised for doing a classic Springsteen rock number Born to Run in folk style but even the boss does it that way and I am sure he would have been impressed with how much feeling Tom achieved in this rendition. Tom had sound issues with his guitar but he was notably unflappable as he shrugged it away and got on with the job. The final few songs were performed with guests Jess and Dave on violins which added a great sound and feel that comes from quality musicianship. First they played some wonderful gentler tunes where the strings helped to invoke even more feeling and tenderness to the music, and then a great swashbuckling up-tempo song that had the crowd clapping and cheering. Tom is definitely a deep thinking person's folk songster!

Next up was Skyscraper Stan (Stan Woodhouse) gracing the stage with his cousin Oskar, and dare I say but there must be something in the water where these guys come from, where the kin grow freakishly long legs and perfect fingers for sweet guitar picking and character filled voices for enchanting harmonised crooning. Stan continuously made us laugh with his song introductions and once the songs were playing had us swaying and smiling along joyfully. Their set kicked off with a very tender rendition of Just a Gigolo which showed us straight up that these guys are not going to play predicable or safe but were going to put their twist on the music. Their songs are full of sweet guitar work, and fine singing with lyrics that are full of fun anecdotes, like their great little ditty all about Woody Guthrie called A Little More About Woody Guthrie which was full of sublime guitar picking, tuneful singing and terrific rhythm and rhyme. They look and sound comical, and they perform many funny songs, but they mix in some tender tunes with meaningful themes around the more novelty songs and each are played with skilled folk/country guitar playing and a bounty of fine melodies and delightful harmonies. These guys will entertain wherever they show up.

When Holly Arrowsmith and her band hit the stage the attentive crowd stepped closer and soon were treated to music that filled the room with a vibrancy and warmth that can only come from a full band that know their parts and enjoy their work. Holly looked sweet and sophisticated with her long flowing brown dress and patterned top, that gave her a traditional country charm and style that fitted her sound perfectly, in fact her sound and look is very reminiscent of Loretta Lynn or June Carter Cash. Her band of four young men sat behind her and studiously went about their business, with only the Bass and Drums keeping to the same instrument. Almost each song brought a new instrument or two to the mix, with acoustic, electric or slide guitar, banjos, and a few more I have never seen before, but they all added to the sound and character in each song in many wonderful ways. The rhythm and the feel throughout the set was a joy to be part of, the music was pure escapism, a real organic live sound that transports you, and made you feel glad you made the effort to be here!

Holly is a talented songstress, her tunes flow with a gentle folk rhythm but they also grow and build in intensity, a heady mix of the band increasing in volume and tempo while Holly lifts her soaring voice to new heights and power. When she releases her melodious tones to the chorus it creates an energy and feel that is quite stirring. Holly talked about growing up in Arrowtown, and how she misses walking out the door and into the mountains, but she managed to transport us there with her beautiful song written about Brow Peak called Lady of the Valley a soulful song that was full of character and mystic quality. Holly and her band treated us to great music that made us all feel good, she creates a kind of earthy music that motivates you to broaden your ideas and tastes "in the real world" and that is always a good thing.

 

About Holly Arrowsmith

"This is the kind of C&W meets folk that strips everything but the honesty away, and what your left with will leave you trembling."
-Scott Kennedy (The Source)

Holly Arrowsmith is the new name in Folk that could be worth keeping your eye on. This South Island songstress has been turning heads all over New Zealand lately- and rumour has it, there is something different stirring in her acoustically driven, soulful sound. Arrowsmith's poetic, thought provoking lyrics, combined with her distinctively haunting voice, give you something pretty special, according to 'The Source'.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Holly Arrowsmith

Releases

A Dawn I Remember
Year: 2018
Type: Album
For The Weary Traveller
Year: 2015
Type: Album
The River
Year: 2013
Type: EP

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