credit: Lauren Joy Kennett
A heavenly voice couched in spellbinding country & western ballads, with a devastating emotional delivery, Holly Macve is a fantastic addition to the Bella Union family. Currently putting the finishing touches to her debut album, she will be touring the US in March 2017 followed by UK dates in April.
Despite her youth, 21 year old Holly has experienced enough strife to last a lifetime: parental splits, heartbreak, early career pitfalls…. Born in Galway in western Ireland, Macve and her sister were whisked away “in the night” by her mother from their errant father, to live with her grandparents in Yorkshire. Once in their own house, near the town of Holmfirth, Holly quickly responded to music: “My Grandad was a classical composer, and my mum sang, and she said I was singing before I was talking,” she recalls. Her mother’s record collection - lots of old blues and Bob Dylan – shaped Holly’s impressionable mind, before she herself discovered the likes of Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash and Gillian Welch.
“Words are my main love,” she declares. “I love songs that tell stories and take you somewhere else. I’ve always been drawn to that old country sound with it’s simple and memorable melodies. I enjoy music that feels timeless, that you don’t know quite when it was recorded.”
At the age of 18 Holly moved down south. She worked in a café, while singing on open mic nights. Bella Union boss Simon Raymonde was a regular customer at the café, and had just set up his studio in the basement when he caught wind of this astonishing young talent, with her vocals notes of Welch, Patsy Cline and Paula Frazer (Tarnation), and the timeless melodies, altogether evoking the Appalachian Mountains and the Wyoming prairie rather than the Brighton seafront.
On stage, she’s a magnetic presence; it’s not just voice and songs. Audiences who have caught her supporting the likes of John Grant, Villagers, Ryley Walker and Benjamin Clementine – incredible company to keep at this early stage – were doubtless stopped in their tracks. Summer 2016 saw her play the Park Stage at Glastonbury, Latitude, End of the Road, Electric Picnic and Reeperbahn festivals, where she was nominated for the inaugural Anchor Awards in 2016.
"I think 2017 will be the year the world falls in love with the voice of Holly Macve.” - Bob Boilen, All Songs Considered / NPR