SINGLE REVIEW: “Once Upon A Time” by Holly Terrens


I stumbled across Holly Terrens’ music by pure chance courtesy of my facebook newsfeed – a handful of my mutual friends had liked a recent status update from her official page and as is the case I clicked the link and had my head blown off by the following track:


Now I’m not sure if this is an official single or part of a bigger release but either way it inspired me to want to sit down and write some words. You can accurately describe Holly’s music as Progressive Pop and it automatically reminded me of Tori Amos and Fiona Apple which is always wonderful because I’m quite the Amos and Apple devotee. It also sounds like Holly is in someway influenced by the more forward thinking heavy metal groups because I also hear a human deeply in debt to artists like Maynard James Keenan, Chino Moreno, Mikael Åkerfeldt and Peter Steele. I can also hear little flourish’s of the 1980’s goth and dream pop sounds of bands like Cocteau Twins, The Cure and Depeche Mode with an obvious hat tip to the outrageously experimental Kate Bush and Laurie Anderson. The sound of Holly Terrens is not purely a nostalgia trip because she also leans equally on more modern pop music icons like St Vincent, Julia Holter and Anna Calvi who are all artists that manage to occupy a unique place within the current lexicon because of the way they make immediate yet challenging music.

To use the word “haunting” is too limiting because the level of emotion on display with “Once Upon A Time” is deeper than that. The song does indeed creep along with a certain kind of spooky dirge that is equal parts horrifying and beautiful. There is a murder ballads tradition sprinkled ever so slightly on top of the narrative communicated lyrically with the song clearly being somewhat autobiographical. The drama of it all is intoxicating and you hang on every word, every note and every emotional twist and turn until the song climaxes with the kind of conclusion that echoes louder than any riff or distorted instrument. To be this intense and emotionally raw whilst still keeping the music stark and restricted to just percussive sounds and a rolling piano is a true gift.

8 Cassette Tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

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