Monday, June 25, 2007

voice to hear

Written by John from Altjiranga Mitjina

This week’s Voice to Hear is another MySpace discovery. Though this time it didn’t come to me as a request. I found her site while browsing someone else’s site. I wish I could remember who I started off with to discover her, but it’s lost in my slowly senile drifting mind. Whoever it was I owe a big thanks, because I have become hooked on Lily Holbrook. As soon as I landed on her page and the music started I was entranced. She has one of those voices that just reach out and grabs ahold of you and doesn’t want to let go.

Lily Holbrook is a young singer/songwriter that started her career busking on the streets of Boston while she was in college. Busking is another name for those street musicians you see on the side of the street or in the subway stations playing their guitar and singing with the guitar case opened for tips while most people wander by without even stopping to listen. Lily started her career this way because she was too shy to appear on stage and figured this was an easier way to sing in front of others. She soon gained enough confidence and a following that she started to play the local clubs in the Boston area and began to attract a following. Local busker and now recording artist/singer Mary Lou Lord calls Lily “Boston’s best kept secret.”

In 1999 Lily released her independent debut Running From the Sky. Drawing comparisons to Tori Amos and Kate Bush with her writing style and her singing/playing the album creates it sound with simple guitars and some strings. Her voice reminds me of Jewel, hauntingly beautiful.

Next up Lily was featured as one of 16 street musicians in the documentary Playing For Change. This documentary featured 16 different street singers and told their story. Her appearance in the movie helped secure her a contract with Backporch Records, a subsidy of EMI/Virgin.

Her next album was the Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt. For my money this is one of the best album titles I’ve seen. I like it when an artist titles his album something besides the name of his latest hit song. To me it sounds better when they dig a little deeper and name the album for some feeling or emotion they’re trying to convey with the entire album. Lily captures that perfectly with the title of this album.

This album uses a wider range of musical equipment and her folkie tendencies are joined with a wider range of musical noise. Writing that makes it sound like a terrible sound, but Lily pulls it off. She doesn’t lose her sound from her first album, she just adds a bigger musical palette to paint with.

A lot of Lily’s music concerns itself with beauty and physical appearances and what today’s society expects of women. On her new album she does a cover of Ozzy Osborne’s “Mama, I’m Coming Home” in tribute to her late brother. This is a beautiful cover of the song that slowly builds to a stunning climax.

Lily has left Boston for the warmer streets of L.A. While in L.A. she was presented with the idea of becoming the “next” Brittney Spears, but decided she would rather make music that mattered to her and not just sing formulaic pop songs. She’s since left L.A. for a life on the road and is touring in support of her music. Her last album was released two years ago, here’s hoping she’s working on a new one and also that her tour will bring her down this way.


Anonymous said...

It is funny to me that "Lily started her career this way because she was too shy to appear on stage ". I would think performing on the street is much scarier than performing on a stage, because on a stage people are there in the frame of mind for listening, and they applaud politely because the situation calls for it. On the street you have to face a lot of rejection and probably nasty comments...
The performers in the NYC subway mostly start their career on stage, and then when they are good enough they get accepted to playing in the subway!
Check out one of my favorite NYC subway musicians, the 'Saw Lady' (she plays singing saw):

Surviving Motherhood said...

Good on her for not falling into the comercial crap hole and sticking to want she wanted to do. she has a great voice and I love this track. Another one to add to my list.

John, you are going to end up costing me a fortune!

p.s just realised I forgot to put a link up to your blog in this post. Sorry about that, shall fix it right now.

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