The Unceremonious Junking of Me - Heart of the Rat Records - FOLK/COUNTRY
Born of a fractured and unsalvageable relationship, yet blessed by the birth of a child, Freya Josephine Hollick's second album is a deep emotional record that sounds at times desperate and fragile, yet often also defiant and optimistic.
The album dials into a sound of pure, unadorned folk and lonesome country music. With just three players and pretty much recorded live to tape in Hollick's hometown of Ballarat, VIC, there is a sense of connection straight to the core of the songs as she sings of pain and heartache. Timeless themes indeed, yet here they are suitably framed in traditional instrumentation and steeped in old-timey atmosphere, the history of folk and blues emanating from the deeply personal songs.
Hollick's voice is the perfect vessel to accompany the music. A soulful warble and gentle twang inhabit her sweet melodies that sing of dark times and for all the weight of the stories on this highly accomplished album it ends up feeling like a strangely comforting listening experience.
Freya Hollick climbed onstage and continued to spruik the Rat’s wares. Hollick’s vibrato and striking feminine tone was captivating, and despite the Dolly Parton comparisons, she possessed an entirely unique presence, clad in a tan suede-like suit, guitar in hand, backed by her violin player, the uber talented Kat Mear. Hollick finished the show to a standing ovation, with yodeling and an otherworldly lightness to her powerful voice.
Ballarat’s Freya Josephine Hollick could be describing her own voice in the opening cut on her second album: “As pure as driven snow, as sweet as honeydew, as high as a soaring eagle, as deep as the blackest ocean.”
This is an album of glorious simplicity – no easy thing to pull off. Recorded by Myles Mumford live at Ballarat’s Main Bar, there are no tricks or gimmicks on show. With wonderful economy of language and playing, Hollick’s voice and guitar are augmented only by Kat Mear’s violin and Pete Fidler’s Dobro and mandolin. Hollick is a young woman with an old soul, singing traditional bluegrass and country, “with all sweetness of time gone”. “Sing them a saccharine tune,” she states, though she never descends to sugary schmaltz. Elsewhere, she ponders: “Why does a sweet girl turn to a life of sin?” Water is a recurring motif, with Hollick singing of its redemptive powers as well as the potential dangers lurking within. “A man is the water,” she sings, “coursin’ down the stream.” Love and loss, sweetness and sin... The Unceremonious Junking Of Me has it all.
The Unceremonious Junking Of Me is out now via Heart Of The Rat Records.
FOUR STARS ****
At first pass, the Melbourne-based country practitioner's new album feels purpose-built for nostalgia, shaped by the bones of bygone artists and couched in a rustic delivery, but Hollick ultimately follows her own reflective journey.
Sprawling and simple, Hollick's tales shine above the sparsity of instrumentation. The decision to capture the tracks live in Ballarat's Main Bar brings a raw sense of place to the album and highlights the vital intimacy of the vocals. Darkly saccharine, painful and poignant, The Unceremonious Junking Of Me is a rich and textured release that reshapes the landscape of country to suit itself.
HERALD SUN - LIFESTYLE
Freya Josephine Hollick stopped us industry types gasbagging with her Nashville meets Nagambie odes to difficult love. She is a “Vintage Victorian and Old World Songbird” and can even yodel. After Freya’s band ripped through a bunch of well-received, transportive songs she went full Bodyguard and sang I Will Always Love You, hitting that high note in the coda. Standing ovation? You betcha, Kevin Costner. Respect to Dolly Parton.
'As a music journalist for nearly 30 years, writing almost exclusively about Australian music, I have heard hundreds of Australian singers and songwriters. Many of them are good, some are very good, but only a few are truly special – and I put Freya Josephine Hollick in that category.' - Jeff Jenkins (The Music, RRR, ABC, STACK magazine)
'I invited Freya to be one of my very special guests on my all live radio program Grand Ole Twang at RRR in front of a live audience. Amongst the local and international guests, she was the outstanding highlight of the show. Freya is a revivalist of folk and country music of times gone by. A mesmerising performer with her unique old style singing and proficient songwriting, she always surrounds herself with the most outstanding local musicians. She is an exceptional talent... Artists like her don’t come along very often.' - Denise Hylands (RRR)