Cool grooves + smooth soul = Holy Moly & The Crackers Solid Gold sophistication
Release Date: 17th March 2023
Label: Pink Lane Records
Format: CD / digital / vinyl
Solid Gold. It always has me thinking of Marc Bolan singing “But I can’t get no satisfaction, All I want is easy action, baby” although no mention of Solid Gold even though it was in the song title. Stroll on… It’s a long way from the brooding and bluesy soul of the Hot Red single on which we’ve been grooving for some time. A track (with the “I’m a rambling girl” evoking Cher in Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves) that neatly sets up expectations for the new album. We could even churn out the predictable phrase ‘long awaited’ – it’s been four years since we took a bite on Take A Bite although there’s been a few miles and gigs along the road since then.
First impressions are that the contents of Solid Gold are a similarly long way from the full-on party action that sees so much sweat and energy poured out in the clubs, the concert halls and festival fields they imbibe with their infectious soundtrack. On the other hand, Solid Gold contains a trademark Holy Moly assortment, that fuses an array of inspirations and influences into a whole that makes said whole quite unique.
The title track is a slab of cool sophistication as the Crackers launch into a jukebox playlist that makes Solid Gold such a broad church; R’n’B – yep, Motown – got it, a cheeky kiss of funk – that too. Soaking up the sounds of an American landscape that’s been mined for the smooth and the soulful there are even some carefully placed brassy injections from the Strictly Smokin’ Big Band whose name fits perfectly with the general atmosphere.
Not staying in one place for too long, the sway and bounce of Skyline Drive even has a Hendrix-y power trio moment whose brief, fuzzed-up thunder briefly interrupts to provide an antidote to the coolness of the chorus. Jamie Shields’ bass has a strong presence, at the front of Bad Habit, whose dub stylings in the underlying bass-driven pulse crop up again in Like A River. The ‘man down on his luck’ sound of Conrad Bird kicks off My Money. Musing, bleary-eyed on the desperate need for gold and to spend it, evokes visions of the down and out, drinking from a bottle in a brown paper bag hardship.
And hidden in the sheen are a couple of nods to their folk influences that we detected last August at Cropredy. Come On Down builds on an acoustic strum and a brief aching (but warm) fiddle part. The jug band feel adds a silver lining to a mournful tale. Give Me A Hammer is an intimate piece where the country roots core is embellished with a haunting shimmer; maybe a hint of Nick Cave in the atmospheric ambience that you’d associate with running a finger around the rim of a wine glass or the fiddle bow on a saw. Another fleeting touch of Ruth’s fiddle too…in the style of Warren Ellis 😉
It just leaves Angelina as possibly the most typical Holy Moly-esque number; stripped back, bass-led with some raw guitar in the mix, in the clubs, this is going to be pumped up into a loud and dirty interlude. A reminder of what we all love about HM&TC whatever direction their music may take, Does everything they touch seem to turn to gold? There’s certainly a case for them having a magic touch.
Here’s Hot Red: