Hollie Rogers releases Criminal Heart on September 9th. I don’t look at the either singles or album charts much nowadays but if I say this album has both individual songs and a ‘whole album’ feel that mean it wouldn’t be out of place in either, it lets you know several things:
- Rogers has a cracking voice
- She writes cracking songs
- The production and playing are silkily good (Masterlink Studios and its house band)
- Criminal Heart is a tad more mainstream than many albums reviewed on folking.com
Add to the list that this is Rogers’ fourth album/EP, has been five years in the making and that the PR material comes with supportive comments from Suzanne Vega, Nick Mason and Ralph McTell – and you know that this is something special.
Dues have been paid, life lived, skills learned and Criminal Heart is the culmination.
You get a feel for Rogers’ folk roots (she describes her influences as Joni Mitchell and Joan Armatrading) on the early single, ‘The Coast Road’, below, and the delicacy of lines like:
“Baby I’ve been waiting for you
This is bad timing I know but it’s true
And I think I could love you
That’s dangerous too
If you hold me like you do
But it’s new
Sing me the songs you wrote when you were young
Thought I knew all the chords but you showed me that one
So I’ll throw it in here even though it sounds wrong”
as an image of the relationship building.
Equally you can get a sense from the title track or, say, ‘Love’ of Rogers’ song writing and vocal intonation being influenced by later generations of artists, perhaps the Spice Girls she references growing up to, but there are also more recent influences. But the album builds: ‘Love and Distance’ or ‘Sinner’, say, are more soulful; ‘One Last Time’, will be one of the better love songs you hear in 2022.
Rogers’ website gives details of live performances in September and October, including a full band album launch. Should be good.
To round off: there are some lovely tracks here, but Criminal Hearts is an album, not a collection of tracks. From the song writing to the playing and production, it’s stylish and has, to use the word again, a cracking range to keep you interested for its full fifty minutes or so. To deliberately mix metaphors (and offer an image for publicity posts), it’s not hard to imagine the album taking off and opening lots of new doors.
Artist’s website: https://www.hollierogers.com
‘The Coast Road’ – official video: