Cleverly Constructed, Articulate and Sometimes Powerful Songs From Genre Defying Singer-Songwriter.
Not the most prolific of recording artists (this is her fourth album in 14 years); I’m guessing Hollie Rogers has a strong quality control system, that means only the very best songs ever makes it onto her albums.
The title track, Criminal Heart kick starts the album like a classic BSA or Triumph motorbike; it’s a bit of a ‘roar’ that could frighten the neighbours; but will go on to give immense pleasure to many other people who get the opportunity to hear it too.
I think it’s fair to say that Hollie’s songwriting and use of language is quite extraordinary for someone flying so low under the radar; with observations and especially her metaphors as good as any I hear from our household name counterparts in the New World.
Now I’ve said that; and this is a very personal thing, three songs here necessitate the addition of clean/radio versions for the delicately natured such as I.
The first is Strange; which really doesn’t need the sweary version at all; it’s not as if those inclusions make Hollie’s tale of jealousy at the end of a relationship any the more ‘powerful.’ It’s not as if the ‘F’ word really has the ability to ‘shock’ these days; is it?
Hey ho; but it means I’ve played the ‘radio’ version on my radio show and had some great feedback.
The other is Bring Me Some Peace; which includes ‘shit‘ and this time it flies past so quickly you hardly notice; but on the ‘radio version’ it’s replaced with ‘sh..’ and doesn’t harm the world weary wisdom in her story one little bit; so did we really need the first version.
OK I’ve spent too long writing about two or three words that won’t bring down Western Civilisation; but I feel it had to be said.|
Even when those two songs came on the car speaker; I still knew that both songs were very special indeed; and ….. they still didn’t come close to being my Favourite Song on the album.
Which isn’t true of the Electro-Americana of Girl on a Mission; it’s ‘different’ in many ways; not least the backbeat which is as deep as the ocean and the claustrophobic arrangement makes for a windswept and interesting four minutes; and this time; because of the way the song is constructed I had to listen quite intensely to hear where the ‘F Bomb’ was; and this time it’s hardly noticeable; and the ‘radio version’ made it into the running for Favourite Song.
Sometimes a song can be so cleverly constructed the listener has to sit back several times, letting things unravel and take on a life of their own; which has been the case with Youth, Sinner and the beautiful piano led City of Colour, which closes the album and makes you want to go straight back to the beginning.
Even though I’ve more or less fallen in love with this album and especially Hollie Rogers’ vocals; it’s not been easy trying to find a slot to fit this in in a record shop. Of course she’s a singer-songwriter; but in the ‘grown up’ Commercial mode of someone like Joan Armatrading and Nora Jones; but there’s an edge to songs like The Man You Had To Be and/or One Last Time which point me towards the likes of Beth Nielsen Chapman and Mary Gauthier, who write from a very lonely channel in the back of their hearts and appeal to music fans who are willing to invest in not just an individual song; but the album as a whole.
After all these years do I really have to explain that the song I choose as my Favourite isn’t necessarily the ‘best’ on an album? A Favourite is just that; a song or sometimes two that captures the attention and doesn’t let go even for a second.
Which has been the case with both the imaginatively emotional The Coast Road which really is as good as this album gets and proves what a suburb songwriter Hollie Rogers can be.
The other; Love and Distance features Jamie Lawson and Robben Ford; but you hardly notice them as Hollie focusses your attention from start to finish (and back again) …..with glorious ease.
I know next to nothing about Hollie Rogers apart from she’s just entered her thirties, is a single Mum and was/is a Spice Girls fan ….. which she attributes to her fiercely independent approach to her career and may even have influenced a couple of songs; and who am I to argue?
Released September 9th 2022
BUY DON’T SPOTIFY