I’ve always been a sucker for a female singer-songwriter. I grew up on a diet of Tori Amos and Alanis Morissette. The more pain and angst they sung of, the greater their songs seemed to become. And that’s a part of my taste that has continued ever since then, comparing everyone who has come since to those nineties girls who were so responsible for defining me. An ocean more have followed, all (in the words of Lily Allen) wanting to be Sheezus; all wanting to rise above their counterparts to make a mark on the music bizz.
Singer, songwriter, and rocker of floppy hats Macve appeared on the scene last year. The Yorkshire lass’ cover of Melanie Safka’s ‘We Don’t Know Where We’re Going’ was without doubt one of the debut songs of the year, predominantly made up of Macve’s wistful vocals, and an emotive piano backing her up. It was a wise choice of track to release at the start of her career, really stripping everything else back to show off who she is, and what she can do.
Her debut long player is out on Bella Union is out on the 3rd of March, and in many ways continues what she started with her debut track. ‘We Don’t Know Where We’re Going’ doesn’t actually feature on the album, instead choosing ten brand new folk-ballads, all with the same stripped-down, emotionally charged delivery. She has the sound of Lana Del Rey, but with a country twang. She uses the same melancholy that Ms. Del Rey has used since the start of her career to express a sense of sadness. But what Holly Macve does differently is to focus less on the production, and uses more conventional instruments to get the same point across.
The album is held together by two factors. There’s very much a sense of heartbreak that continues throughout. Recent single ‘Heartbreak Blues’ kind of says it all really, using all the elements of country and folk classics to create one of her own. For anyone wondering if this album is for them, this song shows us what the rest of the album is about. All ten tracks on the album remain at a steady tempo, never resorting to over the top guitar riffs or drum solos. All the songs are performed acoustically, and tied together with the second big factor that makes this album what it is; Holly Macve herself. Vocally she is perfectly matched to the music she makes, sounding like a girl who has had her heart broken a few times.
‘Golden Eagle’ is an album made up of songs written to be listened to as they are, by a singer clearly in love with the music she makes. Right from the uber-chilled out opening track ‘White Bridge’ to the epic title track ‘Golden Eagle’ and album closer ‘Sycamore Tree’, all the frills are removed showing an artist at her most vulnerable. Brave move for a debut, but luckily she has the goods to back it up.