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Review: 'MACVE, HOLLY'
'Golden Eagle'   

-  Label: 'Bella Union'
-  Genre: 'Alt/Country' -  Release Date: '10th March 2017'

Our Rating:
Holly Macve was born in Galway in western Ireland but, after her parents separated, she and her mother went to live with her grandparents in Yorkshire; a home which she describes as “isolated and surrounded by countryside”.

The silver lining to this family trauma was that Macve has obviously benefited from a solidly unconventional musical education. Her Grandfather was a classical composer and her mom ensured she was exposed an early age to a healthy diet of old blues and Bob Dylan.

In consequence, Macve says she learnt to sing before she could talk and was soon finding inspiration from other distinguished artists like Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash and Gillian Welch.

This background contributes to an accomplished debut album which exudes maturity and emotional depth and belies the fact that Macve is still in her early twenties.

The air of authenticity derives both from the intimacy of her discreetly yodelling voice and from the way her lyrics bring a fresh eye to familiar themes of heartache and disorientation; "I looked at the world with different eyes" she sings on the opening track, White Bridge.

Although her influences derive from a fascination for all things Americana, the bulk of Golden Eagle was recorded in Newcastle at the home studio of producer Paul Gregory with extra recording in Brighton and London. Macve plays acoustic guitar and piano and is accompanied by her first touring band.

All Of Its Glory is built around some impassioned love letters written during WW1 by her great-grandfather while serving in WWI. Otherwise, the romantic anguish is all her own.

In Shell, for example, she is struggling to find words to reject some unwelcome advances ("I'm pushing you away with silence alone") while in Timbuktu she confesses: "I find comfort in forgetting this heart of mine".

However, it's not all negativity or fatalistic longing for what might have been. By the Sycamore Tree on a river bank she meets blue-eyed, dark-haired man who "touched me in a way no-one ever had before".

A mood of sensuous sorrow hangs heavy over these songs so at times she sounds like a cross between Lana Del Rey and Marissa Nadler. Nevertheless, Macve has her own voice and while her delivery may be deliberately mannered, she manages to convince you she is singing from the heart.

Holly Macve's website
  author: Martin Raybould

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MACVE, HOLLY - Golden Eagle
MACVE, HOLLY - Golden Eagle