Hollie Cook – Self Titled

Hollie Cook

Who is this Hollie Cook girl? And where did she come from? Turns out that this is her debut album, originally from 2011 and her parents are indeed former singers and players of instruments. Her mother Jeni was a back-up singer for Boy George, hence Mr O’Dowd became her godfather. Her actual father on the other hand, is Paul Cook who was the drummer in the Sex Pistols. Punk and Reggae have always been synonymously linked, which is why Hollie’s debut album is (thankfully) nothing but riddims. This album was discovered purely by accident: I was literally walking through the aisles of JB Hi Fi in Sydney and there it was on the shelf. Of course I’d never heard of her before in my life so I never bought it until much procrastination and research. I later found a copy on wax. Funnily enough the place goes by the name of simply “The Record Store.” Now, here we are four years later….. and my review is coming at you…..

Milk And Honey: Seems to be a commentary on what’s going on in the world and how you need to have a certain moment in your life where you can just look at the bright side of life. Hollie suggests we try the milk and rice with a bit of honey. Can’t say I’ve ever tried it but it sounds gross. Each to their own. Not dissing this song though, it’s a good opener. You can definitely feel the sun shining through.

That Very Night: Another one of those “you’ll be better than my previous boyfriend” types of tunes. Certainly not the first or last time a song like this one has been made. Musically it has elements of dub, especially in the intro and somewhere in the middle as well. Heavy on the bass lines, which is exactly what reggae is. The phrase rub a dub music can certainly be applied here.

Walking In The Sand: If you look back on the history of reggae, you’d know that it definitely wasn’t uncommon for a reggae artist to cover an old ‘60s or ‘70s song in a reggae style. Hollie has done just that with “Walking In The Sand,” which was originally performed by an all girl group called The Shangri-Las. Basically, a girl’s been left alone by her boyfriend and now she’s getting all flustered just trying to think of the whole reason why he did it in the first place.

Cry (Disco Mix): Following on from that is yet another melancholic reggae tune, which is the first one on the album that was entirely penned by Hollie herself. As the title suggests it’s about her crying when she sees her former boyfriend. Contrary to what is written beside the song title in brackets, or parenthesis, this is not a Disco Mix. It is, however, DUB music. Coming at you with some dancehall chanting from an artist who calls himself Horseman: “You a cry ‘pon de corner…. him a prankster, him a gangster…” Skank around the room to this one like a mad man…. or woman. Not to be confused with the skanks of the world. “Cry” segues into…..

It’s So Different Here: Kind of a strange intro, sounds like we’re in an airport…. eventually the keys glide in and we’re presented with yet another sunny slice of reggae. This song does not take place in the air though, it takes place on an island where women are carrying water jars and there aren’t any phones or cars. Africa? Possibly. Interesting concept though.

Sugar Water (Look At My Face): Essentially this one is about a fellow who’s driven Hollie insane. Well, not really, whoever wrote the lyrics, she’s just singing them into the mic in the studio. I’d still be glad to look at her face though, so no need to tell me twice, three times even. At one point, Hollie states that she is a horse with no race, which of course indicates that Horseman is featured on this track chanting: “She loves the rub a dub a style!!!” He sounds wicked over this dub music.

Shadow Kissing: Just another love song, really. As the title says, she’s talking about kissing a guy on a balcony. She needs his company and she thinks they both go really well together. Simple and plain.

Used To Be: Co-written by Hollie Cook and the man who calls himself Prince Fatty. It’s another one of those break up songs, which this album seems to comprise quite a lot of. The second verse is a bit more upfull though as they say in the reggae world, she’s seeing brighter days after the fact.

Body Beat: The keys are definitely gliding all over this one, which is just great. Hollie is constantly informing us that her body beats and she’s feeling raw. Once again, Horseman pops up to drop another dance hall rhyme about diamond and pearls. Not the Prince song of course! His rap verses should have been properly transcribed under the lyrics section on Hollie’s website though, as opposed to just “(Horseman)” every time he shows up. Aside from that, nice closer.

Verdict: At this point, Hollie is only getting started, but what she has presented here is definitely quite a solid effort from beginning to end and given that it features live instrumentation, this album is definitely not going to sound dated in years to come. 2011 is well and truly over, this was one of the best damn albums of that year. End of discussion.