Jennah Barry Holiday
Published Mar 26, 2020About Holiday, Jennah Barry's first record since 2012's Young Men, Barry says it's an album "about ruminating." The songs came after Barry was forced to stop singing following vocal surgery. The break led her to question her craft and the overthinking that can creep into an idle mind punctuates the album. On "Rocket," for example, she is plagued with what-ifs: "What if I'm lonely? What if I can't control you? What if I beg over the phone?"
Holiday is also an album full of distance, both physical and emotional. It's littered with loneliness, cold shoulders, cavernous pauses and lovers on opposite coasts. For a brief moment on "Roller Disco," Barry's finest song to date, you think that love is finally drawing close when she sings, "I can hear your thoughts from miles and miles across." But then, in a swift delivery of eye-watering pain, Barry adds, "and if I listen close enough, they're not about me at all."
Despite the distance and all the anxieties within, Holiday is built with tender warmth. Barry has purposefully chosen to paint these uneasy feelings using the soft colours of the kaleidoscopic album cover. In collaboration with producer and multi-instrumentalist Colin Nealis (Andy Shauf, Aidan Knight) and a host of contributing artists, Barry's folk-pop songs are occupied with a cozy mix of guitar, lap steel, keys, strings, woodwinds and horns that swaddle you like your favourite comforter.
Barry and Nealis recorded Holiday in 20-minute stretches while their newborn daughter slept, but despite this time restriction, the record doesn't feel urgent. Whether a song's pacing is slow (like dazzling closer "Stop the Train") or nimble (the playful "The Real Moon" is perfect for solitary dancing in the kitchen), the instrumentation moves thoughtfully and calmly. And with her incomparable honeyed vocals at the helm, Barry crafts one of the finest folk albums of the year so far. (Forward Music Group)