Holly Henderson’s sophomore effort The Walls offers us a folk/psych pop sound which is equal parts unabashed fun, earnest retrospection, and lust-for-life vivacity.
These songs feel so heartbreakingly full in a way that speaks to the integrity of vision and production process. Recorded in a country farmhouse largely all in one room, sounds come to us still drenched in the honey-coloured light of that sunny living room where they were born. Horns, guitars, flute, analogue synths and a choir’s worth of voices all sit together in this intimate space. This even applies to sounds that seemingly come from completely different worlds. Acoustic and organic sounds like audible guitar frets mingle naturally on the same plane as electronic elements.
More on the recording process according to Henderson: “The sounds you hear are preserved in the moment that they happened. Tentative and selective moments were never changed in post. The other-worldly elements, synths, sounds, etc, were still captured live. Three to four of us, tinkering with analogue synths, percussion, voices, iPads, etc, while the songs played. Rowan’s sensitivity as an engineer and producer, preserved every magical moment in his safe hands.”
Playful and complex rhythmic changes surprise but never disorient – check out specifically the pick-up note insanity on Head Full of Soil. These heady production and composition elements together support lyrics that speak to “home and belonging”, of building walls to protect ourselves and the learning that comes from tearing them down and letting others in. Henderson’s voice leads the band effortlessly and navigating huge register jumps.
The overall pacing of this album is so strong. Opening tracks like Druxy and Sleep Until establish the brightness and sweetness of that sunny living room. On The Walls sunny yellows turn to orange as the sun goes down outside. And then – bam – Weary Stars flings us up into icy clouds, expanding before us like jagged starlight in a winter night sky. From there we descend back down to earth. After our flight, we’ve landed in the backyard where musky bushes and trees hold us on closing tracks Wendy and You’re Crying.