“Refreshing and beautiful”
- Vancouver Music Review
“The most entrancing music I have heard in awhile”
- The Indie Jam
Boats is the debut EP from BC-based songstress and raconteur Lydia Hol, and like a decadent dark chocolate or rich rye whiskey, the six songs it entails benefit both sonically and lyrically from a perfect balance of bitter and sweet. This young poet, storyteller, and multi-instrumentalist has a dynamic yet delicate voice that’s instantly engaging; that draws you in like a smoking chimney on a crisp winter’s night.
A student of music and voice during her teens, Hol admits she was initially rather timid when it came to sharing that part of herself with others; however, an experience at a grassroots folk festival in her home province would alter her attitude and approach to her art. “When I saw that connection created between artist and audience, I realized I needed to take part in that,” she shares, and thankfully, she hasn’t looked back since.
Her craft has benefited immensely from her studies in both jazz vocals and English literature, the latter subject split between her home province and Dublin, Ireland. “That was a big turning point for me as an artist,” she says of her time abroad, immersing herself in the traditional folk music of the Emerald Isle. Upon her return to her native land, the guitar, mandolin, and bodhran player was armed with an array of refreshing musical ideas and began weaving her youthful voice into a tapestry of well-aged musical stylings. The culmination of that combination to-date is the six endearing tracks found on Boats.
Recorded during the spring of 2012 at Knuckleduster Studios on Galiano Island and produced by Georges Couling (Portage and Main, Elaine ‘Lil Bit’ Shepherd), Boats showcases a level of musicality and poise that belies the artist’s age. With her elegant vocals and a few chords at the core of each, Hol’s songs incorporate elements from traditional and contemporary styles; from folk to pop with plenty in between. Some feature lush arrangements with additional instrumentation from members of her touring band, The Barefoot Boys. Others, like the title track, are stripped down to just singing and strings, bringing Hol’s narratives to the very forefront.
“I’ve always considered myself more of a storyteller than a musician,” Hol admits, sharing some of her experiences of writing for Boats while sitting in front of her quaint cabin on the Pacific coast and watching the boats float by. Incorporating both traditional folk tales along with her own ornate poetry, Hol paints with her words and creates easily relatable perspectives. “My sole intention is to connect with my audience,” she says of her writing – “to have them swept away by the songs, lyrics, and ideas.”
Those connections are strongest when forged from the stage. As a member of west-coast blues/rock outfit Head of the Herd, Hol is no stranger to the live setting; however, when performing her own material, the gifted raconteur likes to be at the very front of the stage, meeting her audience eye-to-eye. No boundaries, no barriers.
With Boats already garnering some positive attention, Hol has her sights on sharing her art with as many audiences as possible. Whether she’s joined by the revolving cast of players who are The Barefoot Boys or simply some wood and wires, Hol’s stories and inviting banter will capture imaginations and create a relationship that reaches well beyond that of audience and balladeer – a musical friendship like no other.