Album Review :: Common Holly :: When I Say to You Black Lightning

by Ryan Haughey

With When I Say to You Black Lightning, Common Holly proves that minimalistic does not have to mean small. Massively orchestrated with endless creative ways to make a sound, the record takes ‘doing a lot with a little’ to a whole new level.

Electric guitar melodies and countermelodies swoop and interweave around a soft, passionate vocal performance. Flutes and alternative percussion instruments are accompanied by various background noises on “You Dance,” like a police siren echoing off an empty street.

There are so many moving parts that are compressed and contained to the size of a marble, and then emitted through like a prism with laser-like focus to create a fully developed soundscape.

Silence is used strategically throughout the album. During the spaces between melodies and rhythm, Common Holly composes tiny breaths that make what comes next that much more meaningful.

On “Measured,” very deliberate bars of rest counter the bars of gentle contemplation on pain and suffering, until eerie, uneven guitar lines seep into the silence between bars – eventually accompanied by strings building and building until the song comes to a complete rest.

When I Say to You Black Lightning ebbs and flows, swelling in the most gracious ways. Common Holly communicates with the album’s listeners through a long line of diverse musical ideas, not once detaching from the clear vision it sets out to convey.

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