Claire Holley

Another female Americana singer-songwriter. Ho-hum, you say? Three years ago, that yawn would have been justified over Claire Holley. Her eponymous album, her debut for Yep Roc and her first outing with a band, wasn't bad, mind you. She showed off honeyed pipes and the ability to thread words and chords into a seamless whole, not to mention slightly bookish good looks. It was apparent that Holley certainly had plenty of talent, but what felt missing was that elusive, sometimes indefinable "it" factor that separates the wheat from the chaff. But Holley seems to have gotten it on Dandelion, her latest record. It's obvious in the way she sings the words "Coca Cola" on the lead off track, "6 Miles to McKinney." The slight sibilance and slur in her voice as she sang the brand name carried the same fizzy and sharp sweetness as a sip of the soda itself. It was indicative of what followed: a strong and assertive yet sweetly seductive presence that invests her storytelling with an authority that captures the imagination. Perhaps her talent is finally achieving a firm footing, a place where she can survey the world and sing about what she feels with confidence and élan. Today, Holley finds herself in a place somewhere between the raw sugar cane of Lucinda Williams and the refined sweetness of Caroline Herring.
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Rob Patterson