Brighton-based singer Holly Macve announces new album, Not The Girl due 16th April on Modern Sky and shares video for "Be My Friend".
Holly Macve today announces news of her new album Not The Girl which will be released 16th April via Modern Sky.
To celebrate the occasion Macve has shared a video for lead track “Be My Friend”, shot by Macve and a friend on a Super 8 camera in Brighton.
“My vision was big, I knew I wanted to do something more expansive than my first record.”
says Brighton-based singer Macve of the road to her second album.
With reach, feeling, storytelling power and a stop-you-dead voice, Macve sizes up to that mission boldly on Not The Girl. Following on from the rootsy saloon-noir conviction of her 2017 debut, Golden Eagle, Holly sets out for deeper, often darker territory with a firm, unhurried sense of direction on her second record: on all fronts, it’s an album that looks its upscaled ambitions in the eye fearlessly.
For Macve, the combination of influences such as Nancy & Lee with time spent touring helped widen her horizons.
“I wasn’t afraid of trying new things, and I wanted to explore sounds and develop my skills in production, composing and engineering.
When I wrote the songs on Golden Eagle I had never toured, it was just me in my bedroom playing acoustic guitar. I then got the chance to tour the world with a band and sing with a symphony orchestra [with Mercury Rev in 2017].
My little world grew and I realised there was so much for me to learn about how I can use my skills as a singer and writer. I didn’t want to limit myself – I wanted to push my boundaries.”
At every turn, Macve’s powers of evocation are matched by the depth and strength in her voice. Witness the meeting of a plangent pedal-steel with her elastic vocal on the atmospheric “Be My Friend”, or the sultry verses and soaring chorus of “You Can Do Better”, which bring to mind a prairie-sized Mazzy Star. Guest guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones’ spacious contributions help enhance its sense of space.
“Bill was an important part of the story of this record,” says Holly. “I love his playing – it helped create that kind of heavy, lazy, dreamy sound I’m such a fan of.”
Elsewhere, rich seams of contrast and counterpoint emerge. The Velvet Underground-ish “Sweet Marie” is epic drone-country, “Little, Lonely Heart” a symphonic waltz around the rootsy stuff of bad love, jealousy, and guilt. “Who Am I” merges a Phil Spector-ish wall of sound with a grunge-y melodic insouciance, while “Daddy’s Gone” finds Macve reflecting on the death of her father over Memphis soul-style backing, rendering complex emotions with controlled reserves of detail and drama before a roistering climax. “Lonely Road” closes the album on a note of becalmed resilience, its narrator looking “past the prison walls and into the garden”, ready to face whatever waits out there. Other contributors included Fiona Brice (Placebo, John Grant), whose string arrangements helped Macve fulfil an ambition to blend ’70s Laurel Canyon sounds and the rougher edges of ’90s grunge with the melodic sweep of Scott Walker. Collin Dupuis (Lana del Rey, Angel Olsen) mixed the album in Nashville; CJ Hillman (Billy Bragg) plays pedal-steel, Emily Druce plays viola, and David Dyson/Phil Murphy play drums. The Arts Council helped with funding, and recording took place between Holly’s home studio, Retreat Studios in Ovingdean, Ryder-Jones’ YAWN studio in Liverpool, and Kore Studios in London. Holly’s musical roots go deep. Born in Galway, then growing up in Yorkshire, Holly was surrounded by music. Her grandad was a classical composer. A singer herself, her mother imparted a love of blues and Bob Dylan before Holly discovered Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, Gillian Welch, and Nick Cave, among others. At 18, she moved to Brighton and worked in a café while singing on open mic nights. When broken love left her “depressed, lost and lonely”, Holly returned to Yorkshire, where her imagination took flight on the songs for Golden Eagle. Great acclaim from MOJO, Uncut and elsewhere accompanied its release, and a covers EP followed. In between, Holly took flight herself, touring with artists she admired (including John Grant, Benjamin Clementine, Ryley Walker) and leading a cover of Helen Shapiro’s “I Wish I’d Never Loved You” at Mercury Rev’s shows with the Royal Northern Sinfonia.
“I got a real feel for being more of a frontwoman and really loved it.”
she says of touring, Brave, brooding, and beautiful, Not The Girl is the sound of that confidence in full, spectacular bloom.