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Claire Holley

Time in the MIddle – 2015 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Claire Holley

L.A.-based, Mississippi born singer/songwriter Claire Holley's latest is a pleasant mix of folk, pop and rock. She kicks it off with an effectively melancholic acoustic take of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds," followed by the equally moody "Travelling Saints" inspired by a visit to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in which Holley observed the resilience of the people amidst the devastation ("Bring your sorrows bring your joy/Dance like you never have before").

Several tracks are reminiscent of Neko Case, including the haunting "Kudzu" ("Let the deer come at dusk/From the woods behind the church/And let them nibble acorns off my grave"), a Beth Ann Fennelly poem set to music by Holley, and the soothing "Be Still" ("Come into my arms and be loved/Give me your heart and be still"). The nostalgic closing ballad "Saturday Sale" depicts a trip to the attic that is sweetly sentimental ("Climb the stairs and open the door/You could find what you're looking for") while acknowledging the passing of time ("Saw that old radio/Clocks with arms that stopped long ago").

One of the stronger tunes is the rocker "Bone" (from the independent short film Holley scored called "Child of the Desert") with a drum beat that recalls The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows." Similarly "Love in a Bowl" reflects The Beatles' influence both lyrically ("Here comes the sun/Shining through my window") and instrumentally with a Mellotron that evokes "Strawberry Fields Forever."

Produced by Holley (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar) along with fellow musicians Jonathan Kingham (piano, organ, lap steel, Wurlitzer, Mellotron, bass) and Dan Phelps (drums, bass, electric guitar, Moog, piano, ebow guitars) the instrumentation is stellar throughout. Holley's strong vocals and solid compositions certainly help.