Boomkat Product Review:
Astonishing, spellbinding first studio recordings by African American artist/musician Lonnie Holley. Imagine Lil B's 'Rain In England' if it was made and sung by a 61 year old improvisor with a heartbreaking blues voice. Honestly! Unmissable!
Improvising sculptor and musician Lonnie Holley’s oft heartbreaking but ultimately life-affirming début record is a singular work of experimental, plugged-in jazz and blues in an outsider American art tradition.
Born and raised in a whiskey house, and suffering a typically tough life growing up as a disenfranchised Afro-American in mid-20th century Alabama, USA, Holley’s music is steeped in a life that may prompt other artists to seethe. But, in his case it comes out with a diaristic intimacy that almost gets uncomfortable to encounter, but is always pulled back from the brink by the soul ingrained in his voice as well as his sparse but tender style of lo-fi synth arrangement.
The seven songs on Just Before Music simply sound like little else we can recall. The starkness of his cracking voice against toy piano chimes in Looking For All (All Rendered Truth) is the most memorable introduction you could hope for, and comes followed by timeless gems such as the spine-freezing gospel blues meditation Mama’s Little Baby, the transfixing hush of The End of the Film Era, and his billowing, freeformed new age piece Fifth Child Burning, each conveying their effect as beautifully as the next.
If you need a reminder that your sh*t isn’t half as bad as you think it is, or simply love music; this guy’s got you.