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Holly Throsby - Under the Town

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 22 / 4 / 2007



Holly Throsby - Under the Town
Label: Woo Me
Format: CD

intro

Melodic, bu unsettling second album from Sydney-based musician Holly Throsby, who stands out in the current crop of female singer-songwriters


This is the second album by Sydney based singer songwriter Holly Throsby, following on from her debut ‘On Night’. It’s a strong follow-up for the Australian who has toured with the likes of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and played shows with Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom. It’s no surprise then that the sound Holly produces is not a million miles from that mined by the Banharts and Newsoms of this world. It should be said though that Throsby’s music is much more immediately accessible that that of many of the so-called neo-folk movement. Like many of her contemporaries there is a darkness which is not immediately apparent in Throsby’s music. Brushed acoustic guitars, hushed, almost spoken at times vocals, the odd musical touch like toy piano all contribute to disguise that there is a darker side to Throsby’s lyrics. Her melodies while not being overly sweet register in no time at all and for the most part the production by Tony Dupe is a stripped back affair, while violins weave in and out of songs like ‘Swing On’ and there is enough musically going on for the songs to remain fresh there is this darkness, this unsettling feeling that all is not quite right with the world Throsby lives in. Despite this darkness Throsby sounds dangerously fragile at times, almost on the point of breaking down, to hear her sing lines like “or a knife I fell on” in the song ‘What Becomes Of Us’ is quite unsettling. Like most of Throsby’s songs there is a lot of imagination in her lyrics. They can be interpreted in many ways. Starting this particular song with the words “It is early, you are dead” in those hushed vocals seems perfect but further on it takes on an eeriness, despite declaring that “I have a new love!” These are intimate songs and sounds to be sure but there is something about Throsby which is hard to pin down. For all the (well-deserved) praise Newsom has received recently her work is such that it’s not the most accessible music (especially her first album) although it certainly has its time and place in our world, but for all its longing, oblique lyrics and a certain feeling of all not being well Throsby makes music that can be enjoyed at any time. Maybe it’s the odd musical touches that Throsby and producer Dupe use. On ‘Making A Fire’ part of the percussion is chopsticks tapping on a window sill and the clarinet played by Dupe adds an interesting dimension to the song. There’s always something unexpected musically cropping up in these songs; always something fresh to discover. But these musical experimentations are quite subtle at times; they don’t actually feel like they are afterthoughts. Imagining the songs without them is almost impossible. That Throsby is in an over crowded genre, that of the female singer/songwriter there is no doubt, that she is very much on her own is also true. Not one of the current crop of songwriters is producing such melodic yet such thought provoking music as Throsby is just now. She really is in a field of her own. This album is thoroughly recommended to those looking for a little more substance in their female singer/songwriters while not having to work too hard to get to know the songs. While Throsby, like many, has that little-girl lost sound to her vocals that underlying darkness adds a whole new dimension.



Track Listing:-
1 Under the Town
2 Making a Fire
3 If We Go Easy
4 On Longing
5 I Worry Very Well
6 Come Visit
7 Swing On
8 The Shoulders and Bends
9 What Becomes of Us
10 Only a Rake



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