Album Reviews

Amy Ray – Holler – Album Review

As a fan of Indigo Girls for many many years now, this new solo album Holler by Amy Ray (who makes up one half of the duo Indigo Girls) is very exciting.

From the get-go the album has a lot of stong female attitude,  empowerment and important messages. The traditional Americana/Country/Folk stylings are simply divine and Amy’s smokey, raw tone is of sublime beauty.

A strong use of instrumentation is met throughout the album which gives the songs a fuller base and cranked up loud, it is the perfect road album as well as at home or entertaining.

There is no trace of pop here as expected, just gorgeous, authentic, americana/folk/country music as stated above.

Beginning with Gracie’s Dawn, you are instantly drawn by the mesmerising instrumental. A 40 sec track but essential to the albums premise which leads straight into Sure Feels Good Anyway which has that timeless classic feel and traces of the Indigo Girls sound that we all love.

Dadgum Down has a trippy, hypnotic vibe which is very enthralling blended with a spaghetti western sound. Last Taxi Fare has strong traditional country style to it which takes you to old time country shows at the Ryman or Opry. Old Lady Interlude is a nice, poetic country folk-like ballad. Sparrow’s Boogie gives a more “live music” acoustic feel and it had a lot of energy with infectious sounds from the banjo and violin amongst other instruments.

Amy take us back again to the traditional side of country music with Oh City Man and the ballads continue with Fine With The Dark which again has a stunning live, acoustic feel to it.

Tonight I’m Paying The Rent is the perfect Honky Tonk track and title track Holler really showcases Amy’s vocals with its soulful edge and gentle, breathtaking tones. Jesus Was a Walking Man picks the pace up a bit with its fast, bluegrass melody. The song, although written before the current border issues fits lyrically with the current border crisis.

Sparrow’s Lullaby is exactly that, a wonderful Lullaby. The melody has a gorgeous underlaying violin/fiddle played throughout the 55 second track. Bondsman (Evening in Missouri) – the emotive and honesty in Amy’s vocals are painfully good. The song is probably the best off the album. Lyrics worth listening to with its stories of poverty and hardship. Didn’t Know A Damn Thing highlights racism and southern identity.

The songs are full of poetic, honest, painful story-telling lyrics which paint a picture, a story-book if you will and you find yourself getting lost within the words being sung and you will find yourself not just connecting with the words and music but feeling very emotional after.

Ray says, “The album is inspired by traditional country, Southern rock, mountain music, gospel and bluegrass. It fits in the Americana genre. The songs tell stories of late nights, love, addiction, immigration, despair, honky-tonks, growing up in the South, touring for decades, being born in the midst of the civil rights movement, and the constant struggle to find balance in the life of a left-wing Southerner who loves Jesus, her homeland and its peoples.”

Guest appearances on the record include Alison Brown, Derek Trucks, Vince Gill, Brandi Carlile, The Wood Brothers, Lucy Wainwright-Roche, Phil Cook, and Justin Vernon.

When albums have a strong use of instruments on all tracks that have clearly been recorded by highly talented musicians then it shows and it delivers on every level.

Holler is a hard-thinking, compelling and refreshingly good album with a deep rich sound. This album is thoroughly enjoyable. Great listening, easy listening, soothing and incredibly gratifying.

Listen to Holler here

Purchase Holler here


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