Saturday, May 19, 2012

Holly McNarland: "Run Body Run" (album review)

During the heyday of alternative rock women in the 1990's, Canadian Holly McNarland struck it big with a sprinkling of hits from solid records.  Now a mother of two, she's returned with a new album, Run Body Run, that was five years in the making.

McNarland was never one of those touchy feelie piano-plicking singer/songwriters.  Instead she picked up her guitar and rocked hard.  The layoff hasn't changed that at all on songs like "Only Money" which not only rock, but feature some sharp-tongued lyrics.

The softer side is definitely not McNarland's strong suit.  Unfortunately, that softer side pops up a little too often nowadays.

It's not that those songs are bad per se, rather they aren't strong enough to stand out among a throng of similar songs.  "Dig A Little", for example, could've be written and performed by any of a hundred different musicians.  Tracks like "After I'm Gone" and "You'll Forget About Me" seem to want to tug at the heartstrings, but they don't make a strong enough connection for the listener to really become invested.

While it's good to have McNarland back, and this album comes from a very personal place, the arrangements and delivery do not make me want to come back for more listens.

Holly McNarland plays The Rivoli in Toronto on June 16th as part of NXNE.

Best tracks: "Only Money", "Alone's Just Fine"

Track listing for Run Body Run:
  • Alone's Just Fine
  • Only Money
  • Dig A Little
  • After I'm Gone
  • Whisper
  • You'll Forget About Me
  • Widow's Pane
  • Fish
  • Darlin'
  • Run Body Run

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