Freya Josephine Hollick’s New LP Drips with a Cosmic Country Quality Only Masters Possess
Just as a single moment can change your life, a single artist can change your entire perspective. For me, that artist is Freya Josephine Hollick. I’ll admit, that it was my own ignorance, but for the longest time I held on to tired preconceptions of what I thought country music was and, more importantly, who it was for. Freya taught me otherwise. Her transcendent new record, The Real World, opens its arms for us non-country people and shows us how beautiful the vulnerability, inherent of the genre, can be.
Recorded at Rancho de la Luna in the Mojave Desert, The Real World reflects the magic of the environment it was created in. It’s as ethereal as it is hard hitting, as hopeful as it is melancholy, as hot as it is cool. It takes us from groove driven tracks full of outlaw attitude like Nobody’s No Better Than No One, to the tear-jerking eco-romance ballad of the album’s title track with all the ease you could expect from someone with the song writing talent of Freya.
Performance wise it’s no surprise that this record sizzles from start to finish. Playing on the desert recordings were none other than Lucinda Williams’ band Buick 6 and guitarist Greg Leisz (Eric Clapton, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Emmylou Harris). They provide such a perfect backing for Freya’s voice you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d played together for years. Speaking of Freya’s voice though, it has to be said it’s fucking incredible. It’s the kind of voice that can convey every emotion without ever losing its integrity and becoming something it’s not. From bitter to sweet, fragile to forceful, Freya can traverse a spectrum of vocal stylings with a deftness only the masters possess.
While The Real World touches on many of the themes you would expect of a country album, it does so in a way that avoids cliché. Lyrically it isn’t trying to exist in a time not ours. With Freya’s wry wit and clever word play, it sits very comfortably in the here and now. She’s able to maintain a timeless quality in the song writing whilst applying a modern, humanistic wisdom to the unique problems of our era.
But I guess more than anything it’s just that Hollick’s style, her steez, her energy, whatever you want to call it, is just so fucking cool that it makes her music god-damn irresistible. The Real World drips in the kind of quality that can’t be taught, only earned, and if you still maintain you don’t like country music after spinning this one, I’m sorry but darlin’, you ain’t got a heart.