Like an ethereal offspring of Nick Cave blessed with the stark musical backdrop of Johnny Cash's American series of recordings, 21-year-old Macve turns country music on its head. On the opener, White Bridge, her voice wails and somersaults disconsolately with a disturbed backwoods air, with little but a dreamy, strummed acoustic guitar and echoing piano chords to support her. The Corner Of My Mind has the clipped gait of a gunfighter ballad, albeit weighed down by gravity and tinged with new age electronica.
Country has been responsible for some of the most heart-breaking songs in music's canon, a perennial favourite being Glen Campbell's "Wichita Lineman" with its peerless line "And I need you more than want you and I want you for all time. " A similar feeling of melancholy can be found on Golden Eagle, but as much as the narrative is, like Campbell's titular hero, stuck on the line at points, it's also a record full of a desire to escape, to change and to keep moving. To set the scene, the opening "White Bridge" sees Macve intoning "I'm coming home again / where I can see the world in front of me" in glorious full voice.
Golden Eagle is the debut of singer and songwriter Holly Macve, a distinctive alt-country singer with a world-weary rendering of Western-styled noir. Growing up with her mother's record collection, which included traditional blues, Elvis Presley, and Bob Dylan, she later discovered the likes of Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash. That sort of helps to explain the unlikely origin of Yorkshire, England for a musician who evokes scenes of a neglected rural America in her stylized cowboy balladry.
S inger and songwriter Holly Macve was raised in Galway and Yorkshire, but you could be forgiven for assuming the 21-year-old is from the Mississippi delta or the Appalachian mountains. The shimmering guitar on Heartbreak Blues and the doom-laden piano chords and faraway backing vocals on The Corner of My Mind sound like they've been beamed from Sun Studios in Memphis, circa 1957. Golden Eagle, her debut album, has a strong country or bluegrass flavour - though some songs, such as Fear, deploy more unpredictable chord sequences.