Sunday, September 8, 2013

REVIEW: Lonnie Holley - Keeping A Record Of It

Lonnie Holley is an Alabama-based singer and artist with an approach that is, to say the least, unique. It's unconventional for sure. The songs move slowly - there's some call/response type repetition, but he's just as likely to ramble through a story, a line at a time in his powerful voice - it's got a sort of strangled, twisted beauty that sustains interest regardless of song structure. Mostly he's accompanied by fairly simple instrumentation -- in addition to subtle keyboards and percussion, there are found sounds that, in a way, mimic his artistic approach.

It reminds me of Sun Ra, George Clinton's "Maggot Brain" ("Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time"...) and Gil Scott Heron's spoken word work, but again, it's unique. Here's a terrific song "From The Other Side of the Pulpit":

On this album he is accompanied by Deerhunter/Atlas Sound's Bradford Cox and The Black Lips' Cole Alexander, and a good bit of the recording was done with them in Atlanta. It's a good combination, a bit reminiscent of when outsider artist Howard Finster used to supply album art to R.E.M. and The Talking Heads - one generation connecting with another, bridging the gap through shared interest in how to use art to explain the world.

Here's a teaser video:

And here's a video for "Six Space Shuttles and 144,000 Elephants":

Here's Lonnie's statement about the record:

Where does a bird go in the midst of a storm? I ask that because of my life and how I had to live - what I went through before being an artist. I believe I was chosen to be an artist because I can take my life and tell somebody else about it. But where does a bird go in the midst of a storm? What happened to my mind during the time I was unconscious for three and a half months as a child?

I remember when we used to go to church they had testimony time -- time to testify, time to tell the congregation what you had been through. You all are the congregation to me, y'all is the church. My whole life is my testimony, as are the works you've seen and heard and the works I'm continuing to do because I can't stop.

I can't stop, I can't cut my mind off. I can't walk away from what I do without worrying about it. I appreciate my talent and my skill. Some things I look back on make me get kind of moody and I cry a little bit and it makes me sad all over again. But I make art and I made this record because I think it's important. It's important for me to keep a record of my life.

I'm pretty sure that's what he means by "the other side of the pulpit" - life as testimony. This is haunting stuff.

Lonnie Holley Facebook

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