Holly Throsby - Team
Record Label: Spunk
Release Date: February 18th, 2011
After releasing her intricate third full-length in the autumn of 2008, the lovely singer-songwriter Holly Throsby toured extensively in support of her latest release before settling back into the comforts of normality within the suburbs of Sydney. During this time Holly went through a process where every word she formulated and subsequently wrote within her notebook was lacking purpose and direction, but six months before holing herself up in a nineteenth century Methodist church in the southern highlands of NSW to record, Holly immersed herself in an intensive songwriting period where she claims she wrote as consistently as time permitted. The result of which can be heard on what is arguably her finest work to date, her fourth studio full-length, Team which was released in late February.
Whilst the record as a whole can be considered a luscious and elegant listening experience complete with an intimate warmness, “Here Is My Co-Pilot” is quite the wild spark that escaped from the metaphorical flames. Cohesively it manages to sit with the remainder of the album whilst maintaining its unmistakable uniqueness and charm as is best exemplified when focusing predominantly upon the rhythmic instrumentation and Throsby's delightfully percussive vocals. Album opener, “What I Thought Of You” opens with pre-recorded piano chords entwining solemnly with a breathtaking violin and prominent acoustic guitar tones helping to paint a vivid musical soundscape. Lyrically it showcases thematic uncertainty and reflection which is a strong recurring theme through the album’s entirety. Towards the latter portion of the track you can certainly hear the influence of the sandstone church for it sounds as though microphones were purposefully placed into position to adequately capture its own unique sound and assist in the production of Team. It succeeds in maximizing the power and delivery behind the soaring melodies and haunting background harmonies heard during the final captivating minute.
“It’s Only Need” is a beautiful ballad featuring an assortment of chimes and stunning violin lending further support behind Holly’s hushed unpolished vocals. It’s a track that’s far more experimental in terms of lyrics and overall song structures which adds to, and captures a startling sense of derailment that we all experience when we’re searching for someone or something we’ve lost. It can be hard to overcome, and in essence, Holly is able to capture that feeling and evoke it onto her listener to tremendous effect. “Hi, You Reckless Darling” is a two and a half minute acoustic ballad featuring a male backing vocalist and soothing dual harmonies whilst “It’s Funny” is a slightly moodier and vulnerable number where the lyrical themes concern being too tongued-tied and tired when it comes to saving a relationship and the after effects that come as a direct consequence to that decision. In Holly’s case, the final words uttered are a dispirited, “Goodbye, so long”.
“Come Back To See Me” is an album highlight with its soaring vocal melodies that cascade with sincerity and vulnerability - So much so that you can almost hear distinct traces of regret and loneliness etched into Holly’s vocal delivery when she whispers pleadingly with a piano playing delicately in the background, “There’s a cold wind blowing in on me/and the buildings and trees are so lonely/come back and see me”. The final two tracks are immediately striking for their abundance of stunning harmonies and are among the most affectingly gorgeous songs in Holly’s oeuvre to date. The closer, “When” is absolutely majestic for it finally truly showcases the profound talent within Holly’s sublime vocal qualities and places them at the forefront of the listener’s attention. Subtle hooks, piano flourishes and sweeping string arrangements are only a fraction of what you’ll find hidden within this gorgeous finale.
Since creeping onto the indie scene at the start of the millennium, Holly Throsby has made a beauteous art of whispered vulnerability and candid honesty. The fragile and minimalistic acoustic vignettes of 2004’s On Night, 2006’s Under the Town and 2008’s A Loud Call were artistic sketches of yearning and heartbreaking sorrow. Team may well be the most reflective yet as the album shimmers and glistens with delicate pop nuance and new melodic vitality.