After making a splash in 2010 with an EP and a slate of high-profile live performances, Holly now releases her first full-length debut album.
Titled TwentyFourSeven, the KZN Music House-released record is a revelation of smart, Afro-rooted pop music – created by an artist who sounds nothing like the all-too-frequently manufactured “popstars” who have surfaced in South Africa over the past few years.
For starters, Holly’s debut features a brace of songs mostly written by the 15-year-old herself – an innate gift that her self-released EP, ‘Strawberry Skies’ first introduced to a now ever-widening circle of fans.
Marciano Rebelo Monjane, a highly regarded Mozambican musician who remains part of Holly’s live band, produced that 2010 released record. The songs worked on by Holly and Monjane for ‘Strawberry Skies’ – Siyabonga Madiba, As One, Senza Famba, and My Friend as well as Africa and Happy Song – thankfully now remain part of her full-length debut, giving those fans who missed out the EP’s short print run a chance to hear this set of songs again.
Joining Monjane on TwentyFourSeven is renowned South African producer, Mojalefa M’Jakes Thebe who contributes production on the new songs that make their first appearance on Holly’s full-length debut – among them Could Be Love, Goodbye, Lies, Just Another Boy, and Party Going On.
“Working with two different producers has been a great learning experience for me,” says Holly. “To see how each one approaches my songs or adds to them has been a really interesting journey.”
A standout feature of Holly’s work is her expansive approach to bringing the songs to life through collaborations with vocalists and performers. This is something Holly herself feels strongly about and that she cemented on songs off ‘Strawberry Skies’ like Siyabonga Madiba, As One, and My Friend – all of which featured Drumkit’s original raps. Holly was determined to keep this collaborative feel on TwentyFourSeven.
“Being able to release my debut album means that I have a platform to introduce music fans to the many undiscovered talents that I’ve been working with or come across over the past year,” she explains. “I’m amazed at the talent that’s not been heard by music fans.”
One of these is Duane Sin, a rapper with the deft ability of an Eminem whom Holly heard on a demo. “I loved the way he sounded and really wanted to feature him on one of the new tracks,” Holly says. The result is “Goodbye”; a touching song about loss that manages to match Holly’s expressive voice with Sin’s emotionally charged rapping.
Another is Capsolys, a Johannesburg-based artist who originates from the Democratic Republic of Congo and is the face of Trace TV for Africa. Capsolys’s vocal feature comes on “Party Going On”, an exuberant track that’s fast turning out to be a favourite of those who’ve heard the album. Cleverly mixing a Maskanda guitar line with an 808 hip hop beat, the track is dance floor ready and reveals a lighter side to Holly that’s sometimes hidden beneath the more intense songwriting found on songs like Siyabonga Madiba and Africa (two of her earliest and most heartfelt tracks).
And the fun side of TwentyFourSeven doesn’t stop there! “Just Another Boy” is a pop-fueled, cutting take on teenage boys (“you think you’re so hot/take yourself on a date”) that reveals Holly to be the kind of thinking teenager you want actually want to spend time with.
“I like to observe the things that go on around me,” Holly says of this song that’s likely to become a fast and firm favourite of teenage girls followed-around by ego-filled boys. “My lyrics are very much about being a teenager, in Africa and the stuff that we encounter by living here.”
Also helping out on TwentyFourSeven are a number of great musicians including guitarists Daine Francis, Aristides Manique (Aka Harris), Donovan Banks, Brent Quinton, and Milton Chissano; bass guitarists Wonder Jazz Hlubi and Philani Ngidi; drummers Paki Peloeole and Simon Beech; keyboardist Mark Royeppen and pianist Peter Enslin. The album’s two producers also contribute to the playing with Thebe undertaking drum programming and keyboards on several tunes and Monjane handling percussion on a number of tracks.
But, in the end, the album is very much Holly’s – effectively capturing the sound she’s been working hard to create since she first began writing songs on her guitar several years ago. It’s a sound that’s as authentic as it gets and has emerged from a gifted young songwriter who works at her craft with the same intensity that she approaches performing.
“It’s really great to be able to hear the songs complete,” Holly says of TwentyFourSeven. “I’m looking forward to more people getting to know my music through this album and playing the songs live.”
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Issued by JT Communication Solutions on behalf of Holly.