Photo: Louie Castro-Garcia / Courtesy of the artist

Horace Holloway Tells the Story of “El Santuario de Chimayo” (premiere)

Singer-songwriter Horace Holloway is joined by Americana artist Caitlin Cary for a stirring and reflective folk tune based on the story of a National Historic Landmark, "El Santuario de Chimayo".

Jeffrey Morrison is Horace Holloway. As the titular character behind Tin Foil Stars, his debut EP set to release on 4 October, he is a lithe cowboy poet. The album’s pristine production is led by notable engineer Joe Rodriguez (A Flock of Seagulls). A broad collective of folk and Americana notables also join Holloway as he ceremoniously rides again. This includes Caitlin Cary (Whiskeytown, American Aquarium), whose warm vocals harmonize with Holloway’s throughout the reflections of “El Santuario de Chimayo”.

Named after a Roman Catholic church and a National Historic Landmark in New Mexico, Holloway proves his mettle as a folk troubadour as he fills the song’s darkest corners with nostalgic flickers of light. The wistful scene painted by the artist as he traverses the church in song captures the healing nature of the locale and its history with reverence. Cary’s summery vocals beside Holloway is of special note, bringing on layers of sentiment and benevolence.

Holloway tells PopMatters, “During the recording process for the song ‘El Santuario de Chimayo’, I actually received a cease and desist letter from El Santuario de Chimayo! It’s a real place in Chimayo, New Mexico with a beautiful back story for those who may be unaware. Apparently, El Santuario de Chimayo is a trademarked name that I didn’t have express written permission to use! I had no idea. I was genuinely very apologetic, as it didn’t even occur to me to look into such a thing. I did eventually go through the process of handwriting and mailing letters explaining what I was doing with the song, with the name, what my purpose was, and why. Thankfully, the very kind and gracious people in charge there gave me their blessing to move on ahead with the use. Within the inner circle, we lovingly refer to the song as ‘El Santuario de Trademarko’.

“When I first heard the finished version of ‘El Santuario de Chimayo’, I was stunned. Honestly. I could never have imagined it turning out so well. Just the way everything sort of came together and stayed true to the vision I had had in my head when writing the song. From Caitlin Cary’s angelic vocals to the way I can feel and see the heat shimmering and rising off the sands in Scott Brackett’s keyboard work, to the incredible, soaring pedal steel playing from Neil Flanz. The fact that I somehow managed to create and be a part of such a thing is a miracle akin to the ones I sing about in the song.”

As Horace Holloway, Morrison is putting years of heartache and wonder into song. Tin Foil Stars is the first taste that most will be receiving of his work. But the artist has been writing songs since 2012 and seriously pursuing music since around 2013. His artistry is inspired by marrying his wife and finding out she was pregnant as much as it has been by his parents making for an escape from the law or the death of his brother. He has explained, “Somewhere in that turmoil and uncertainty the seeds of my music career sprouted.”

On Tin Foil Stars he says, “Once I realized that this would probably be many people’s first impression of me, I knew I needed to step up my game, and I took the writing and development for this record very seriously. Maybe a little too seriously, to be honest. I tend to get carried away with things!”

“I did a ton of research on every question I could possibly think up for any situation—songwriting, recording, anything that might arise or that I may need. I also, very consciously, decided early on that if the record failed, if the process failed, I wanted it to fail on me, with no one to blame except myself. I needed to be the weakest link in the chain, so I surrounded myself with a great engineer and producer and some killer musicians that I looked up to.”