TRACK REVIEW: Hollie Haines - Keep Moving On

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Hollie Haines

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Keep Moving On

 

9.4/10

 

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Keep Moving On is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/album/3Z9zwi0xMa9T0kUfp0QJYm

GENRE:

Alt-Folk

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

23rd February, 2018

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THERE are some important things…

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PHOTO CREDITGeorge Yonge Photography

I wanted to discuss in this review – so it is best I get down to it, I guess! I will look at Hollie Haines and what she achieved but, before then; I wanted to address artists who are relatable and accessible; musicians who work hard and undergo changes – and come through it impressively. I will go on to document artists who provide music for the masses; give inspiration to others; looking at female artists this year and why things have to change – finishing with bits about future moves and capitalising on success. For Hollie Haines, her career is young but, so far, she has resonated with many. I get sent a lot of requests for interviews/reviews and, by and large, the artists I witness are grounded and easy to connect to. That seems a juxtaposition against the mainstream and popular music culture. You get a few bands/artists who are normal and ordinary but, largely, there is that mass who seem intangible and somewhere else. I am not saying it is easy for big stars to come across as for-the-people but, even those who are starting out seem to project a sense of the aloof and detached. I want to be able to connect with artists and feel like I am listening to someone who wants to get under the skin and strike a common chord. So many artists out there put the music into the ether and that is it – never really a chance to discover who made it and actually bond with the musician. You might say that is the point of such a profession: we are here to listen to the music and not socialise with everyone who makes it. I will grant you that but, as the industry crams to capacity – can we really afford to accommodate those who do not make an effort to connect with their public? Maybe you go to see an artist live and they will chat between songs; many will do interviews and you get a semblance of the familiar. What I am talking about are artists whose natural personality and demeanour suggest the human and nice. New music does things a lot better: artists who you can emphasise with and find some common traction.

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Hollie Haines is someone who brims with life and smile; she has that accessible nature and, when hearing her music, she writes for her audience. The songs are personal but she consciously brings people into the music. My reasons for music vary but, largely, it is to find some comfort and companionship. That may paint me as a mad cat-man (if such a thing exists) spending his evenings by a gramophone hoping the birds will come to the garden so he has something to look at – whilst his cat pees on the rug and ignores everything I do. What I am referring to is music that gets into the heart and makes me feel less alone. So much of today’s music is sterile and broad. You never really get a chance to dig deep and one feels the artist is aiming for commercialism and popularity. Haines is an artist who writes about her experiences but wants to help people out there and remain in the mind. I have been in the game a long time and can detect musicians who are in the business for the right reason: those who are doing it to well-known and succeed on streaming sites stand out a mile away! Hollie Haines is in music for all the right reasons. It is an outlet and channel for her; a way of expressing her deep emotions and providing guidance to others. I will move on to other things but, for now, I want to end up with a recommendation: listening to Haines is a way of making sense of troubles and bonding with an engaging and warm soul. It is hard to fake the kind of sincerity and personality one senses on Keep Moving On. It is hard to get a rooting in music – even harder standing out from the crowd and becoming a big thing. Haines might take a while to get into the mainstream but she is someone we need there right now.

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PHOTO CREDITGeorge Yonge Photography

One of the reasons the past few months have been difficult for Haines is the fact she has moved. Her life has taken her from Leeds down to London. That might not sound like a huge shift for many – Leeds is a large city; its population friendly and warm…oh right! It is hard moving anywhere but, the fact Haines has gone that distance and assimilated with new people has brought it challenges and doubts. Many of us feel safe where we are and get familiar with our surroundings. I am not one who takes big leaps but I am looking to move to London very soon – get involved and closer to where the action is. It can be hard being away from the capital and seeing other people have fun, take advantage of the city and dive into the culture. It is a busy and stressful place but, for a musician, it is the place to be. Even so; it is scary for anyone going alone and settling there. I am not sure whether Haines moved with a friend or boyfriend but, in any case; it has been hard getting used to the pace and energy. A recent post – on Twitter – from Haines thanked her fans for getting behind her. She moved five months ago and, before then, wasn’t excited about music and her songwriting. It is easy to see why someone would become dissatisfied with their lot and need a change of pace. I am in a position where I am writing but want to be somewhere else and a need surrounding. You can be in a good place, physically, but not completely satisfied in other areas. Hollie Haines took action and did not want to completely lose the love for music. Coming to London might seem like a natural move but, for her, it was a very big one. Her story worked out well, in the end – and will give inspiration and guidance to those in a similar position.

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That recent Tweet offers thanks to her fans and those who have supported her situation. I am glad she has come through things and is able to open up to her fans. It is clear they have provided her impetus and she, in return, has kept going and brings the world new music. That is what I was saying about musicians: few connect with their fans the same way and have that close relationship. It is wonderful seeing young musicians reveal themselves and feel comfortable opening up to their fans. Haines is in a safer and more secure space where she feels revitalised and fresh. It has been a hard last few months and that dwindling energy was dangerous. Many would have quit music or taken a long break: Haines decided to make a big change and keep that flame alive. Now, in 2018; there is a fresh assault and chance to take advantage of London. The capital is busy and hectic; there are so many artists doing the same thing out there. One needs to stand out and separate themselves from their peers. Haines projects some familiar tones but her personality and unique words come through. The fact her songwriting is so personal and honest means the music is stronger than a lot of what is out there. I am not sure what she has planned in terms of gigs but, in the coming months, there will be demand for new material and more words. Since her debut E.P., The Walls I Built, she has made steps – career-wise and personally – and she is stronger than ever. Keep Moving On is a call for positivity and hopefulness; it is an uplifting song that mixes County, Rock and Folk strands. There are many who would struggle to maintain a positive disposition given the move and dissatisfaction with the older life – failing to embrace a new way and having that hope. It is interesting looking at the musical blends Haines teases and how they absorb into the mind.

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There is Rock and Country; there are bits of Folk and Pop and, when listening to her music, you get a confection of various sensations and ideas. I will write a piece later regarding innovation and how hard it can be breaking new ground. Some artists are trying to break barriers and create a new genre: others are happier to provide something more relatable and familiar. Haines, in a sense, is between the two fences. Her music rings the ear and has that impact straight off. You do not need to dig too deep or think too hard for the music to resound and compel. You hear the vocal and tones; the sonic strands go into the mind and it all sits very nicely. Haines brings her own ideas to genres like Folk and Country – the lyrics are the biggest standout and unique edge. In other ways, when writing, you sense an artist who is trying to shake up music and do something genuinely different. Haines is still transitioning and making herself known in London. The city is big and daunting but, for musicians, it is a platform and way to get their music heard. It is welcoming of those who have something original in their locker and want to step into strange territory. You listen to Haines’ music and it is hard to pin down. On the one hand; the warmth and openness put you in mind of other artists. On the other; you have a rare artist who does not deal with clichés and tropes. She does not want to make music to please a narrow audience or get famous. To her, this industry is a way of channelling her talent and drive – getting that passion out there and touching other people. Finding an artist who delves into the heart and creates such an effect should be encouraged and applauded. Keep Moving On is a deceleration for improvement and need for growth.

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In 2018; there are many – myself included – asking where music will go and how it needs to change. Maybe it is harder breaking the mould and reinventing music – should that be a bad thing? You can create a wave of excitement and build a following by taking something already out there and adding your own spin. In many ways, that is harder to do: there are so many artists predictable and safe that it means new artists trying to stand out struggle for attention. Haines has been in the business a while and honed and developed her music through time. Starting from modest foundations and a great sound; the songwriting has grown in scope and confidence. All of this means Haines has the ammunition to do something genuinely fantastic this year. Her latest single is proof she has plenty of fire and dedication. The sounds have that personal aspect but they are designed to appeal to a wide audience. I am not sure what she is thinking regards marketing and getting the music out to radio stations. It seems Keep Moving On will enjoy a lot of attention and airplay. Haines is charged and determined; she is masterful when combining genres and elevating music. I think she will play festivals in years to come and, given the competition out there; this is no small feat! Her songs have an established base and, through this year, those numbers will increase and widen. The music will get out to other nations and see her stock rise. It is interesting how Haines has developed and where her music is taking her. London is a great city to get gigs in and has a very broad population. The busy and never-still nature of the city means Haines will have plenty of inspiration and drive. Being surrounded by eclectic people and scenes means the mind, hopefully, will be rejuvenated. I wonder how Haines can change music and help make real improvements.

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There are so many great female artists around but, as ever, being overlooked in favour of the men. It is difficult getting your name out there regardless of gender – it is so much harder for women. The festivals are committed to creating something gender-balanced…not for another few years at least. I wonder why it takes so long for organisers and festivals to get their act together and create parity. It is 2018 and we should encourage a more gender-balanced scene. It is a shame there is so much imbalance as, in my mind, female artists out there are more engaging and appealing. I am not sure why people fee female artists are inferior to men. Maybe there is a commercial aspect to male artists, especially bands. They have always brought in the crowds and money – that is because women have not been afforded the same opportunities. Haines is not someone who fires against authority and the decision-making bodies – she must feel a bit aggrieved by what is happening out there. Her superb music will get rewards but I wonder, as I do with many female artists, whether she’ll get all the celebration she deserves. Sexism is present in music and it is something we all need to tackle. I worry artists like Haines will take longer to get onto festival stages because of their gender. You listen to songs like Keep Moving On and it warms the heart and soul. It is a fantastic sound and get the spirits lifted. In addition to all of that; you get energy and motivation – the body sways and the voice is compelled to chime in. These combinations would sound great on a large sound. Maybe Haines’ music is more suited to Folk festivals but she has a songwriting talent that could see her ably taking to any stage. I wonder whether we will see any productive and concentre changes this year.

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Haines has played Sofar Sounds Oxjam; she has performed smaller gigs but, now she is in London; those ambitions will heighten and Haines will want to play bigger spaces. I feel certain genres, too, get overlooked and given shorter shrift. Maybe it is me reaching too far but there is less attention given to Folk and underground Pop/Rock. The mainstream still favours a certain sound and sort of music. It has to be huge emotive or energised; rousing and able to get crowds pumping. I can understand that from a headline perspective but, as you listen to a Hollie Haines song, the imagination wanders and the brain conspires. Her sounds would be perfect for a larger festival: a chance to inspire many and ensure her music gets out to the masses. I feel her gender holds her back in a way but I wonder, in terms of style, Haines will struggle a bit. It all sounds very bleak but it means, when she does get that recognition; the taste of success will be so much sweeter. I think she is looking to settle into London and acclimatise to the way of life. It is a huge city and will take a bit of time before all the gig demands come flooding in. People are responding to her latest cut – making me believe tastes and changing and folk are looking for songs that have more depth and quality. I am one of those people who feels quality and substance are more important than anything commercial and easy. Haines is an artist unwilling to compromise and settle for something so easy. That is another reason her music stands out: it is from a human who wants to be honest and pure in everything she does. She has battled indecision and taken a huge step in life. Having doubts and being lost could scupper and derail lesser artists: Haines has made changes and, now, she is putting her feeling onto the page. Keep Moving On is her paen to positivity and hope. It is a song that, once heard, remains in the head for an awful long time.

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The swaying and delicate strings that open Keep Moving On get right into the brain. The embers seem Country-fried but there is a mix of Folk and Rock in there. A balance of acoustic trip and electricity gives the song romance and intrigue. You are caught by the swooning and straying Country tones but buoyed and moved by the Folk edges. It is a fantastic brew that leads to a wonderful vocal. Haines’ voice is pin-sharp and sweet. She pronounces her words precisely and lets her thoughts skip like a deer in the snow. The phrasing is remarkable: words flow and stop; they elongate and syncopate. The heroine subverts expectation by swerving away from love and that predictable source. She hates to disappoint but here, against the grain; this is not a story of forgotten love or finding ‘the one’. The heroine was with a boy but, it seems, things were not desirable and she had to make a decision. It is okay to step away and readdress life, as she says, and it is okay not being okay. We all get into ruts and feel we need to remain on a certain path. Maybe she had been living life for someone else and expected to do what everyone else wanted. The relations and passion has run its course and, in terms of herself; there was something missing. The spark had gone and the way she was living lacked desire and purposefulness. I was instantly connected with someone whose desire to change and improve leapt out. I talk in the past tense but, as the song moves on; I am discovering new life and ideas. Haines’ way of singing is poetic and real. Her accent comes through and it is all about the voice. She delivers her lines with such a sense of purpose and drama – in the sense it is physical and well-performed; never heavy and dark – that it is impossible to ignore what she is saying. Haines has been following a barren path and needs to assess the situation.

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The chorus steps in and has more of a Country vibe – the verses are more Folk-based and sound differently. The multiple vocals and layers lifts the chorus and lets it be known you need to keep moving if things aren’t going your way. Changes are hard but, in a lot of cases, they are needed and important. I have been thinking of making changes myself and have been caught in a bit of a miasma. It is hard dethatching from one way of life and doing something completely different. Haines knows this but, rather than get caught in a funk and feel solemn; she has resolved to be stronger and get herself away. There is beauty in her life – Haines feels sad others do not appreciate what they have – and the song starts to race. I get hints of The Staves and First Aid Kit; Country acts like Little Big Town and Miranda Lambert. It is a fantastic blend that gets right into every pore and engages the senses. The song’s changing dynamic and bi-polar characteristics mean it is a more evocative and sentient than song than you’d imagine. The chorus is the deceleration of where Haines is now: moving on and in desiring a situation where she can fulfil her dreams. All is not lost and bad but, in essence, where she is now is not as comfortable and happy as it could be. Rather than retreat and admit defeat; she is keeping her head up and realising what she has in her life. I was excited throughout the song and amazed by the candour and quality. The phrasing has cuteness and charm but it strong and nuanced. You are hooked by every word and follow the songwriter as she lets the listener into her life. The Walls I Built (E.P.) released last year showed what a strong and special songwriter Hollie Haines is. Keep Moving On seems like the second phase of her career. It is the ‘London Chronicles’ and the documentation of her new life. I wonder whether there will be more material coming this year. It is clear Haines has new desire and keen to explore where she is now. It has been fantastic discovering an artist who does things differently but has seems familiar and relatable. You can connect with her songs and appreciate what she is saying. I am excited to see where she will go now and what she can come up with. If you have not discovered the colours and contours of Hollie Haines – get involved with her music and show her some love!

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Haines’ Alt-Folk magic has entranced audience already and seen her get into the minds of fans and journalists alike. The weather is still pretty nasty – although, it is warmer and less harsh today – and it is a perfect time for people to connect with a brilliant artist. Keep Moving On is enough to warm the cockles and put one in a finer frame of mind. I am pumped and excited to see where Hollie Haines goes and what her next steps are. There will be more material, I assume, and that will lead to gig requests and appearances. She has played some gigs in town and had the single reviewed by websites. The word is spreading, and so, I feel this year is a very important one for Haines. She wants to get her music out there and now – in a better frame of mind and place – there is that compunction to reach the people and get the music seen. There are few out there who have the same determination and spirit as she does. There are loads of great small venues around London; some fabulous ones further afield she would be welcomed and desired. As the weather improves and warms; I feel the people will react and come out in force. I mooted the possibility of an E.P. – maybe that will come later in the year. I shall end things now but want people to investigate Haines’ music and discover an artist who has come a long way. It is going to be a very bright future for Haines and her sounds. I can see her touring internationally and playing larger festivals. She is a wonderful artist and makes music for the people. That might sound strange but it is the way she manages to resonate with everyone that stands out. Her music is not reserved for a clique and small audience. It is music for the masses and, because of that, more people need to get involved. Keep Moving On is a fantastic song from an artist who has struggled with doubts and problems but has come out the other side…

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WITH emphatic resolve and desire.

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Follow Hollie Haines

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