[3 August 2009]
Holly Throsby has a middle-class soul. Composing soft, humble ballads for guitar and strings since her teenage years, she’s released three albums of folk music so breathy it’s almost non-existent. Her mother, a prominent classical music radio announcer, no doubt encouraged these early compositional forays, and recently, she has gained a measure of confidence. Maybe it was the trip to Nashville to record with Andrew Bird’s producer; maybe it was the duet she sang (which appears here) with Bonny ‘Prince’ Billy. Still, A Loud Call, her third LP, is anything but—even on its most upbeat tracks like “Heart Divided” the arrangements are minimal, and Throsby herself gets lost in the consonants. There’s something about the way the singer produces the “o” vowel sound that sounds really weird. It’s not just her accent—which is broad, and calculated—it’s that the composite vowel warps what might otherwise be a sparse, pure folk moment. There is one high point—“One of You for Me”, a minor cacophony of pizzicato and strings plus a bassoon squeaking somewhere in the background—but throughout this slight disc Throsby remains lighter-weight than Sarah Blasko and less melodic than Missy Higgins. Live, her shyness is an asset, a way of communicating intensely personal revelation. It turns out what Jens Lekman says about shy people in this instance is right.