Putting on notice body curves and swerves, we suggest no summer will be complete without the exotically sexy and melancholically captivating Tropical Soul. Just as suitable for smouldering cold hugging nights before a flaming fire, the new EP from Holly Holden y Su Banda is a musical travelogue and emotional reflection to seduce ears and spirit. It is also one of the year’s biggest delights so far and potentially the moment an already acclaimed and eagerly followed singer songwriter comes under the biggest spotlights.
From London and with many years of her life also embracing the relative beauty and life of Cornwall, Bristol, and Berlin as well as just as inspiring travels, study, and musical collaboration within Latin America and the Caribbean, Holly Holden brings it all to her wonderfully eclectic and adventurous sound, perfectly tagged as tropical soul. Like music as a whole, it is a borderless proposition offering a worldly exploration for artist and listener. Flavours from Cuba, Ecuador, Colombia, and Dominican Republic collude with Caribbean and European enterprise, a mix dancing and flirting round intimate and love nurtured reflections as irrepressibly evidenced by her new EP.
Already with plaudits for her 2012 formed collaborative project and album Xistence with Cuban rapper Alayo Style as X Planet, Holden linked up with guitarist Frank Clarke and drummer David Beauchamp in 2014, Holly Holden y Su Banda emerging from their combined venture. Seemingly persistently busy with her own shows and as part of female vocal group Deep Throat Choir who have just released debut album Be OK and Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit, things will surely become even more hectic and crazy as Tropical Soul infests bodies and imaginations.
The EP opens with the irresistible El Impulso, its inescapable temptation instantly teasing through Holden’s smiling bass throb, it courted by small but spicy sparks of guitar. Her voice is soon an energetic smile in ears too, slipping effortlessly between English and Spanish as melodies from Clarke’s guitar weave their warm coaxing. It is hard to truly give a proper reference to Holden’s music such its diverse and unique character and presence but a mix of Holly Walker, Regina Spektor, and Molotov Jukebox gives a pretty good idea of the pleasure waiting within Tropical Soul. With percussive scrapes and Beauchamp’s frisky beats, the song is manna for feet, hips, and enjoyment and still just about eclipsed by its successor.
The ska lined Run immediately has its swing emulated by flesh, its relaxed but tenacious stroll a lure of wonderful ska inspired riffs and rising flames of brass as Holden’s melodic croon contemplates aided by just as tasty harmonies. Across the release, contributions from percussionist Satin Singh, keyboardist Daniel Correa, trumpeter Will Roper, Marcos Caballero on tuba and alto saxophonist Sarah Parkes add their prowess to the trio, Clarke also a blast on sax. Who plays where I cannot say but as on the second track, it all makes for a captivating rhumba some might say addiction was invented for.
Dead Coral swings in next, its Caribbean spices and Cuban spotted grooves sharing infection as Holden effortlessly grips in voice and word. Again you know it is a proposal doing good as feet instinctively shuffle and bums bounce before bodies rise to full height and spring their lustful involvement, the proof in The RR office. To be honest such the power and potency of the sounds, the EP need a few listens before attention can delve deeper in the lyrical explorations of Holden, a just as rewarding discovery as personal and intimate thoughts are shared.
There is a definite feel of The Specials to Mellow Drama, its ska seeded keys and air carrying the lonely almost noir lit shadows of Ghost Town yet tempered by the sultry sway and waltz of brass and guitars. The epitome of melancholic seduction and elegance, the song is a haunting bewitchment lingering long after its departure though within the release quickly replaced by the blues and reggae hued soul of the imposingly catchy Benji Muji Mau; another inescapable tempting for physical and vocal participation.
The EP is concluded by Born At The Right Time, a more low key incitement, though it is all relative, but still equipped with juicy hooks and rhythmic bait around the ever fetching tones of the lady. It also has its own blues seeded breath as guitar and trumpet align in rueful endeavour, a final imagination stroking smoulder to fly away with.
Like for so many others we suspect, Tropical Soul is our first global tour with Holly Holden y Su Banda; a thrilling escape for which no passport was needed; as her bio suggests Holly Holden’s music provides that.
Tropical Soul is released April 9th.
Pete RingMaster 30/03/2017
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