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'Illusive Harmony (EP)'   

-  Label: 'Backwater Records'
-  Genre: 'Folk' -  Release Date: '21st February 2020'-  Catalogue No: 'SUF043'

Our Rating:
This is the Suffolk-based singer songwriter's fourth EP and she has now wisely added the 'D' to her name to avoid any possible confusion with Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Holly Johnson.

These tunes will be defined as folk but the resonance of her voice is certainly not that of a traditional folk maiden. Romance and human drama lie close to the surface of the songs but there are hidden depths too that reward repeat listens.

Piano and cello are the key instruments and these give the tunes a delicacy and grace. Her songs embrace femininity and feminism; gently yet firmly challenging the narrow and stereotypical ways both these concepts are defined.

In the opening tune - Eve's Kind - she sings "I was raised the way that ever woman's raised" with the implicit message being that the roles are made to be challenged. In Hearth and Home (Census Boycott 1911) she praises an historic protest for women's suffrage ("they raised their voices to change everything").

The EP comes with an accompanying booklet of her poetry (Girl on a Rock). This includes three poems which express her love of Ireland and Emerald Rover does the same in song form.

With Dante's Kiss she explores love and loss with reference to Rodin's statue while with Alabaster she sings of the "blood red history" of a grandmother she knew only through a boxed wedding dress that was later burnt.

The final song - Renaissance - is described as a full band performance but is as just as light, airy and dreamy as the rest of this idiosyncratic yet accessible set of songs.

Holly D. Johnston's website
  author: Martin Raybould

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JOHNSTON, HOLLY D - Illusive Harmony (EP)