Saturday, December 17, 2011

Best albums of 2011

9 Holly Throsby – Team
It seems that there is only room for one female singer-songwriter in my affections at any one time. Last year it was Laura Marling, but even though she released another excellent album this year my affections have been stolen by Holly Throsby.

Not to be confused with that other antipodean songstress called Holly, this Holly specialises slightly off-beam songs about relationships and their associated trials. The lyrics are always interesting and her backing is generally exquisite: simple guitar and piano lines filled out with delicate touches of strings, cello, double bass, drums and vocals that are looped and layered.

In the album opener What I Thought of You she is looking back on a relationship and wondering how different things look in hindsight. A couple of kids piano chords start things off, with a quick scratch of cello before the guitar riff starts, setting the scene perfectly for the this bittersweet recollection.

The absolutely gorgeous strings and a slightly breathy vocal delivery on It's Only Need cover up a desperately sad brush-off to an unwanted partner, while Here is My Co-pilot is more up-tempo and seems to be recounted from a more positive perspective. The vocal layering looping around the background is particularly effective here and builds to a lovely gentle crescendo.

The remainder of the album is more low-key compared to the superlative start and the later tracks dip in intensity a bit, but still offer up plenty of charms if you are paying attention. Also highly recommended is the singer-songwriter supergroup album – Seeker Lover Keeper – which Throsby recorded with Sarah Blasko and Sally Seltmann.

Oh, and we've got a washing line exactly like that in our back garden ...

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