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June 25, 2024

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Holly McNarland
Stuff (Universal Records)

By: Alex Steininger

Holly McNarland is a talented singer/songwriter hailing from Canada. She can be obnoxious, she can be lethal, but most of all, she is always entertaining. Her music is an edgy brand of pop-rock, recalling times of bad love and other misfortunes of life to fuel her fire. Her lyrics are personal, drenched in regret, anger, and optimism, but they are also written from a stand point where others can sit back and go, "yeah, I know how that is!" Intimate and revealing, she never lets her own feelings overshadow those the listener forms from her music.

"Numb" kicks off the CD. Right from the beginning an infectious guitar riff reels you in. Then the drums come down with a bang, the bass mixes in, and everything starts to take off. Holly's vocals are strong, very strong. She carries the song with an angry touch to her vocals. Come chorus time, the song just gets deeper into a pit of infectiousness. If she doesn't have you singing by the end of the first chorus, the second time through it'll hit you like a ton of bricks and you'll be singing along. "Porno Mouth" changes the pace a bit, and gives us a slower pop number. With no rock or jagged edge to her vocals, she relies on lyrics alone to portray her emotions. The song is slow and weepy, taking us through a lost love relationship of hers. With lyrics like "And I don't want to be without you/and I can't think of anything without you," you know there is a part of her that wants the love to be the way it used to. But other lyrics like, "He's everything but beautiful/and you got everything you need/and you got everything but me," sheds more light on the subject. It seems as if she wants the love to be like it was before, but there is a part of her that couldn't handle the same old relationship, with the same old guy that will never change. She can't have it both ways, and she knows it, and that is where the conflict of the song builds up. She does a nice job of keeping the music soft to give us a good look at her sensitive side, but the lyrics always let us know she is nobody's toy. "The Box" starts out with some killer bass, which I just go crazy for. Heavy and in control, the bass helps set the mood. The vocals go from sweet to jagged, packing a fierce blow with them. The drums beat steadily in the background, picking up during the chorus. Everything about this song screams, even when the pace is soft. But the focus point of this song is the bass, which will be enjoyed by everyone who listens. Meaty and full of kicks, it slips depth and power into this number, as if it even needed it. After a very vigorous song like "The Box," "U.F.O." helps settle the listener down a bit. Starting off very soft, relying mainly on her voice and an acoustic guitar, the song soon picks up with the addition of the rest of the band members entering in. The drums softly beat in the background, setting the pace for a gentle tune. "I Won't Stay" closes out the CD. A nice finish to a great CD.

This CD is emotional, powerful, and very provocative. It provides everything any listener could ever desire. I strongly recommend this CD. Holly McNarland is a talented songwriter, and her voice carries out her words to a tee! You'll be hearing a lot about her in the future. I'll give this CD an A+.

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