When Holly Palmer‘s self-titled debut arrived in 1996, I was pleasantly surprised at both her artistic style and unique sound. This was a record that set itself apart from the flux of Alanis-esque records that seemed to be ever-flowing during that year. Blending soft, soulful ballads with more jaunty numbers, Holly crafted a collection that was both refreshing and long overdue.
‘Sal The Gardener’ is among my favorites. Accompanied by only a piano, Holly sweetly delivers the story of Sal, who while drunk, imagines dancing with his long-lost wife and can still ‘smell her sweetness if he’s still.’
In 2000, Holly was gearing up to return with her second record, Tender Hooks, but it was unfortunately shelved, leaving Holly at a point of reflection.
Enter David Bowie. Holly was given the opportunity to work alongside Bowie for his 1999 album, Hours, joining the tour with fellow artist and friend, Emm Gryner. The experience assumingly had a major impact on Holly, both professionally and personally. It also provided her with the proper time to think of her next move.
It took eight years, but Holly has finally resurfaced with I Confess, a melting-pot of sexually charged funk, bluesy soul, groovy pop and plenty of sass. A prime example comes in the form of the lead single, ‘Just So You Know,’ released last year. Instantly infectious, the song is a testament to Holly’s musical evolution and easily became one of my favorite tracks of the year.
Holly exhibits her strong jazz influences too. One such song, ‘Down So Low,’ taking its form in a classic jazz-lounge style, spotlights Holly’s remarkable vocal talents and incredible versatility as a performer.
Never one to be lyrically lazy or stuck in just one genre, I Confess is pop music at its most intelligent, refusing to rely or allow a series of dance beats to carry it. While the beats are o’plenty, they’re constantly serving up something new and memorable.
You will never find this kind of substance on a Britney Spears record.