It has been 4 long years since Holopaw has released an album, is it worth the wait?
Holopaw – Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness ( Bakery Outlet Records 2009)
The albums opener The Art Teacher and The Little Stallion provides a glimpse at a band still trying to stretch out from its folk roots, with a straight forward rock chorus you wonder if this is going to be an all together new direction for the Holopaw. But the quivering vocals sooth you into a lulling comfort as the band has not strayed far from their previous album “Quit +/ Or Fight”, which to me is a little bit of a let down. Yes they do tend to play with a little more intensity on a majority of the songs but the “more rock” parts don’t really enhance the bands sound. Too often this album sounds like they are trying to be a band that they are not, such as Little Stallion With A Glass Jaw with its catchy intro which gives way to a rather mundane verse which sounds like a boring rock song. This same statement can be made about many of the songs which pull you in with a loopy intro only let you down by songs end. The second track Lazy Matador has this same result as the interesting beginning fades in to a rather repetitious song which hardly changes until the 3 minute mark, but by then you have zoned out.
The largest thing missing from these songs is the tension between lead singer John Orth’s vibrato filled voice and the music that accompanies it. John has a great ability of drawing out all of the emotion from each song as if each word he picked was the exact mate to the chord that was being played. Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness does not lend itself to such great pairings partially because the backing music is filled out more and partially because the songs just are not as interesting. The nature filled themes are still intact and he has not changed his vocal style but the overall product is a shadow of their former greatness. Some of this could be attributed to the departure of 3 members who played on their first two albums. Granted the core song writers (singer John Orth and guitarist Jeff Hays) are still in the group but a shake up of the other three could have been the difference.
This review may sound a little critical because it really isn’t a bad album by any means, but the band may have set the bar too high for themselves with their first two albums. There really isn’t a stand out track and there aren’t any real duds, a serious case of being tragically average. While Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness is a grand idea with fuller songs but it does not play out to grand results.