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Album Review

Claire Holley's fourth album, Dandelion, is the sort of record whose craft is so fine and so subtle that the music nearly gets lost in itself — while Holley is a capable songwriter and her voice has a winning warmth and purity, by the time the 11 songs come to an end, you could have a bit of trouble recalling what most of the album sounded like. Dandelion leaves little doubt about Holley's obvious talent, and the production and arrangements (by Holley in collaboration with two of her sidemen, Steve Graham and Rob Seals) have an open and natural sound that favors the material, but the material is ultimately the problem with this album. Musically, too much of Dandelion follows a very similar path: calm midtempo folk-pop with a hint of country twang that's pleasing upon first listen but gets to be a shade monotonous over time, and her skill as a lyricist doesn't quite overcome the frequent similarity of the melodies. Which is a shame, because the buzzy country-rock of "6 Miles to McKenney" and the witty, understated throb of "Waiting for the Whales" suggest she has some other ideas in mind, and they stand out from the other cuts here simply by their willingness to do something different. Dandelion is a good record from an artist with potential, but it also suggests that Claire Holley would do well to find a collaborator who can make her final product as good as her raw materials.


Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Claire Holley is a singer/songwriter blessed with a warm, gentle voice that possesses an unexpected strength, as well as a lyrical style that is humane, gentle, and literate without sounding pretentious. Holley was born in rural Mississippi and took to music early in her childhood; she taught herself to play ukulele when she was a girl, and was inspired to pick up guitar after repeated exposure to one of her parents' favorite albums, The Atkins-Travis Traveling Show by Chet Atkins and Merle Travis....
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Dandelion, Claire Holley
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