Ah Holly Fam’ly – Reservoir

Ah Holly Fam’ly – Reservoir

Ah Holly Fam’ly – Reservoir

When we talk about music and its importance in the public school systems, there are usually many arguments for it. It’s usually one of the lowest-funded arts with most allocations going towards anything sports-related (AKA where many people flock to spend money.) I love sports but music touches on so many levels that to attempt to place its significance on a scale seems futile.

In that regard, one of the arguments towards music education is the pure fact that music is an aesthetic experience. When studying the brain, a person’s brain will do more work when playing a piece of music than say, when they are reading a book or even doing a mathematical problem. So not only are more parts of your brain being forced to work (putting the music into place, making sure the right notes are performed, with the right tone and dynamics within the scope of what’s going on around you and so much more) but it takes you to another whole other place.

So it goes without saying that the first school to entirely rule out music would have to be one of the worst in the country. But it really takes a lot for music to move you to another place all on its own. Eight-piece, folksy band Ah Holly Fam’ly is able to accomplish just that with their album Reservoir. An album with equal parts strings, open-hearted arrangements and diverse instrumentalists that it all comes off as one big sweep of amazement.

“Lucky Peak” twirls around an opening that Sufjan Stevens must have dreamed of but never got around to writing before the endearing touches of flutes, violins and a chugging bass line lead the duo’s charming singing. A kaleidoscope of sounds that never comes undone, it places you in the middle of a soaring plain with nothing but fields of grass to run through and the sun’s shining beams to bask in. These kinds of feelings are paramount on an album that never loses any of its care for special touches of gleam and shine. “All Unfolding” is a fine example with the guitar’s slow strum accompanying the singer’s foil, before it dwells into a place far and away; originally captured, tenderly performed and sweetly adorned, it’s nothing but greatness.

Boldly filled with compositions that combine married couple Becky Dawson and Jeremy Faulkner’s vocals into these ten loving songs, Ah Holly Fam’ly are the answer to the question: what happened to the folk movement? Where Faulkner’s gin-soaked voice croaks and cracks through every passing note, his bride’s breathy delivery makes for one poignant combination. And even with their vocals forming the bond that the rest of the music feeds off, it’s the band’s overall sound that makes for one exceptional album.

Eight people in a studio sounds like a lot but it never comes off as something overblown with the quaint amount of space that they leave in their music. The melody to “Salt of the Century” is dressed in a fusion of flute and saxes with each instrument carefully placed on top of the next. And the following song, closer “Gliders,” showcases the band’s singing ability as they rest their laurels on a choir setting. Piano, flute and clarinet quietly backdrop in support but the voices all combine for an uplifting ending of the best kind: affectionate, solemn and inspiring.

Comparisons seem unfair, except for the most obvious ones but it feels like these ten songs were written from the deepest and strongest of partnerships. Every sound that turns into a melodic line that transforms into a song feels as if it’s all being sung for your ears and your ears only. Always maintaining a charm that soars above all else, Ah Holly Fam’ly have proven themselves with a fantastic calling of music.

“All Unfolding” by Ah Holly Fam’ly

Lucky Madison Records