Dandelion (2003)


Dandelion - Claire Holley

Track Listing

  1. 6 Miles to McKenney MP3
  2. Dandelion MP3
  3. Henry’s
  4. Sugar
  5. Waiting for the Whales
  6. Love Never Came
  7. Playground
  8. The Singer
  9. Tread Softly (instrumental)
  10. Waving Goodbye
  11. The Deep

Background: the making of Dandelion

For Dandelion, her 2003 release on Yep Roc records, Claire Holley wanted to try something new. “I’d been admiring bands that could jam, where it was more about the feel of the live performance. I wanted that kind of energy in this record. I wanted to sing well-written songs, but I also wanted musicians playing in a room together, where they could make eye contact and change the way they approached the song based on what the other players were doing.”

It was an inspired impulse, and has resulted in a record that blends Claire’s proven singing and songwriting talents with the tight, rollicky sound of a club band performance. For the new project, Claire challenged herself to step away from the familiar. For this she turned to engineer and co-producer Steve Graham. “When he and I discussed my thoughts on a new project, he sympathized with my desire to make a more organic-sounding record. He wanted to help me turn it up a notch, to bring out the edge and sass and attitude in the songs by putting together a strong rhythm section, while still paying attention to the vocal and the acoustic guitar.”

They recorded the album in a spacious room with classic equipment — tubes, tape, and vintage instruments — an approach that helped give the record its warm, intimate vibe. Also essential was that Claire bring in musicians who could take advantage of a fairly free, live recording atmosphere, not merely memorizing parts, but contributing to the songs with energy and creativity. Her voice is shaded alternately by wistfulness, anger, melancholy, mischief, and plain fun. But throughout there’s a sweetness, a rightness to this music that is fast becoming Claire Holley’s trademark, a distinctive sound that makes Dandelion convincing, and beautiful.

Praise

“The album runs the gamut of all the emotions, captured by Holley’s smooth, unforced delivery…” — No Depression

“Mississippi songwriter swaps acoustic-lite for country rock.”

“Dandelion moves Holley into rockier territory without losing the intimacy and vivid observation that made her first album so enjoyable.  With Rob Seals’s punchy guitar central to the new sound, Six Miles To McKenney bounces along like an old Chevy, Lover Never Came To Me is a sturdy, bottleneck blues, while the title track is delightfully complex. Lyrically adventurous — Waiting For The Whales has Hank, having been bullied by his friends to go whale watching, grimily hanging onto his greasy breakfast, determined to get his money’s worth — it’s a successful change of gear.” — Rob Beattie in Q (London), October 2003, p. 108

“On the charming Dandelion, this sweet-voiced Mississippian displays the instincts of a master short-story writer, crafting vivid, folkie vignettes of everyday folks, eccentric and otherwise. Supported by a sure-handed band that boogies deftly on ‘6 Miles to McKenney,’ but mostly stays under wraps, Holley hints discreetly at emotions that run deep, never succumbing to unseemly excess.” — HARP Magazine

“Simulaneously sweet and gruff, she can sing luxuriant, summer-drenched ballads with the best of them, but there’s something of the honky-tonker lurking underneath. It’s a quality that gives her records a rough-and-tumble sexiness — like Rickie Lee Jones singing John Prine.” — PASTE Magazine

“Her lovely soprano, detailed lyrics and intimate story-songs never overwhelm the shape-shifting melodies and her easy-rolling charm, making for a captivating-yet-casual listening experience.” — CREATIVE LOAFING (Atlanta)

“Holley’s supple, silvery voice sounds completely at home in these surroundings, with guitars, drums and bass discreetly weaving around her. Right off the bat, Dandelion (her fourth album) sounds special…” — Parke Puterbaugh WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL

“Each song, the listener finds, is worth repeating, each portrait worth a second look.” — IMAGE

“Claire put a lot of trust in the creative team she assembled to interpret her songs, and that trust shows up in the spontaneity and vibe of this mostly live recording. There is an ease and a freedom to this record that I find refreshing. Nowhere is that freedom more apparent than in Claire’s stunning voice. She explores the profound and the profane with equal wonder and grace.” — Rob Seals, co-producer and lead guitar player

“It was more about the performance than perfection — letting the song do what it needed to do, and not beating the life out of it. We were trying to make a record that was more about feel and being in the moment than getting a clean, corrected piece of work.” — Steve Graham, producer/engineer, bass player

Review in UK’s Fish Records