26 May 2020

Remember Me? | Join | Recover
Click here to sign in via social networking

Holly Arrowsmith - Album Review: A Dawn I Remember

10 Jul 2018 // A review by Trevor Faville
Sometimes it’s good to approach writing a review for a new collection of music by listening to the music first, before reading any of the attendant press, and reviewer info. That way you listen to what you are hearing as opposed to what you are expecting. This proved rewarding for this release for a number of reasons.

Holly Arrowsmith reveals the main colours of her palette over the first couple of songs-Strummed acoustic guitar, breathy soprano vocals (with frequent skips into falsetto head-voice) carefully and intimately recorded. Fans of Emmylou Harris will certainly resonate with this. From here what happens is a gradually enfolding exposition of a creative artist who has really hit a peak. This collection of songs quite literally unfolds from piece to piece. Extra layers of instrumentation are carefully-so carefully-sprinkled over key points, and every song leads to the next, with no sense of rush but a very clear sense of direction.

So, there is an almost-narrative structure, and Arrowsmith uses this approach with real skill. There are cleverly alternating keys, meters and timbres which introduce variation in a way to balance slower tempo and quieter dynamics.  As the album progresses, the songs build in intensity, peaking with the final two songs Autumn and Slow Train Creek -songs which (gently) echo the instrumental flavours of Billy Bragg and Glen Hansard respectively. Powerful, evocative music that is confident enough not to feel any need to overstate itself. Witness the point in Slow Train Creek where the strings kick in and then diminuendo away by the end of that same chorus, leading to the plaintive final solo vocal phrase "return to me". It's a wonderfully effective (and affecting) way to end an album.

Lyrically, Arrowsmith has a way of being observational without being strident, and introspective without being narcissistic. Her words are not wasted, and she understands the power of a lyric wedded to a strong melody. A quick dive mid-album reveals an easy source - try Love Together for lyrical economy. Frequently too, Arrowsmith employs a kind of ‘final word’ technique with brief vocal codas at the end of a song-leaving the listener with some consecutive end phrases - “I am hopeful” “mostly they’ll teach us” “so much beauty I could cry” “let a little sorrow go” “return to me” - giving subtle emphasis to the not-quite-story-arc.

This is by far Holly Arrowsmith's best work to date. She has crafted an evocative ’big sky’ album that acknowledges and honours its influences without wasting too much time being reverential. Over this whole collection there is a fine musical sensibility, with melodic and lyrical strength, sensitive and intelligent arrangement /production, and clear creative vision. It is music that draws you back for another listen and offers fresh reward every time.

Review written by Trevor Faville

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


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

Other Reviews By Trevor Faville

isunray - EP Review: Balancing Act
09 Mar 2020 // by Trevor Faville
isunray essentially consists of multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Hay, who has quite an extensive history of songwriting, arranging and producing. For this release, he is joined by vocalist Jade Eru, who makes a powerful and significant contribution.
Al Fraser, Sam Leamy and Neil Johnstone - Album Review: Panthalassa
17 Sep 2019 // by Trevor Faville
This trio of highly experienced creators (aided by an impressive cast of guest contributors) have created a suite of sonic explorations with quite clear ‘‘abstract and impressionist” intent. The attendant press notes explain in detail the scope, intent and process of this work.
Tablefox - Single Review: Always Always
05 Sep 2019 // by Trevor Faville
Tablefox have been on a career climb since 2013, steadily building momentum with some notable live gigs and recorded work. Along the way the group has grown from three to five and their sound has evolved in scope and focus as a result.
Albi & The Wolves - Gig Review: Albi and the Wolves @ Nivara Lounge, Hamilton - 23/08/2019
30 Aug 2019 // by Trevor Faville
There is a group of New Zealand musicians who are really putting in some time around the touring circuit at the moment. It's cliche to describe them as ‘hard working’ - that's glib and a redundancy - but certainly, the work is getting done and it is showing in terms of their successes.
Single Review: Blue River Baby
06 Jun 2019 // by Trevor Faville
The hard working Wellington based 'electric psychedelic soul and funk rock' ensemble Blue River Baby have released their self-titled and third single as a video. Blue River Baby clearly has the same evolution as Walk of Shame and Black Yard Town.
New Telepathics - Single Review: Life On Other Planets
27 Mar 2019 // by Trevor Faville
The New Telepathics are an Auckland based ensemble with quite an extensive recording and performing history-and a history that deserves a thorough exploration. This is a refreshingly independently minded ensemble.
Blue River Baby - Single Review: Black Yard Town
19 Feb 2019 // by Trevor Faville
The Blue River Baby band have been working and evolving in Wellington for the last two years or so, and this tune is a clear representation of the style and sound that they have developed. Black Yard Town moves through a range of tempo and dynamic changes in a funk/ soul context, with an arrangement that is in one way tight and at the same time fluid.
Album Review: Waiuku College - Our Sound
09 Jan 2019 // by Trevor Faville
Changes in secondary education point towards project based and /or big picture learning approaches which attempts, among other things, to replicate ‘real world situations and experiences. The idea being that learning would involve many curriculum linking into a project or experience.
View All Articles By Trevor Faville

NZ Top 10 Singles

    DaBaby feat. Roddy Ricch
    Ariana Grande And Justin Bieber
    The Weeknd
  • SAY SO
    Doja Cat
    Megan Thee Stallion feat. Beyonce
    BENEE feat. Gus Dapperton
    Powfu feat. beabadoobee
View the Full NZ Top 40...
muzic.net.nz Logo
100% New Zealand Music
All content on this website is copyright to muzic.net.nz and other respective rights holders. Redistribution of any material presented here without permission is prohibited.
Report a ProblemReport A Problem