New Zealander Hollie Smith first came to prominence in her own country in 2006 with Bathe In The River, a massive hit that stayed in the top 10 of the NZ charts for 22 weeks. The following year her debut album Long Player was released on both sides of the Tasman. I was instantly hooked by the soul drenched groove of Philosophy from that album, a song that could have easily sat on India Arie’s gorgeous Acoustic Soul set or one of the early Meshell Ndegeocello albums. Long Player was another chart topper in NZ and went on to achieve multi platinum sales.
Things then went quiet for a few years as Hollie painstakingly worked her way out of her record deal. She resurfaced here in 2011 with a stunning cover of Weather With You on the Finn brothers’ tribute album They Will Have Their Way. The brilliance of Hollie’s version slowed down the bright and breezy original into a gospel inspired and jazz tinged arrangement. It was a very bold interpretation.
While her profile has been off the radar in Australia her new album could well change that. The disc contains the familiar soul and jazz influences, but now there’s something more – heavier beats, fatter bass, a few horns and she even rocks out with a little guitar distortion. Musically Hollie is traversing a lot of new ground here and with it potentially a whole new audience. This is not only a great album, but it sounds fantastic too – no doubt helped by Aaron Nevezie (Black Keys, Dangermouse, The Roots) mixing it in New York.
The album will be released in Australia on June 17, with the title track out now – Water Or Gold. Hollie will also be touring Oz in July – a gig well worth checking out.
Trevor Jackson. Read more at www.sounddistractions.com