There is a special experience to be gained from hearing live music in an intimate environment. The setting tonight in Whelan's is just perfect for the very attentive audience who have eagerly awaited the return of Holly Williams to our shores. Joined by her husband, Chris Coleman on guitar and vocals, together with Annie on upright electric Bass; Holly delivers a beautifully paced set of sublime songs, both old and new.
Her strong vocal performance and confident stage presence are balanced by a warmth in her storytelling and an honesty in performance that is both refreshing and all too rare these days. Starting with a solo performance of Sometimes from her debut album, Holly is then joined by her fellow musicians for an impressive run through a number of the latest songs from The Highway the most recent release. We are treated to close vocal harmonies and delicate interplay across Railroads, Gone Away From Me, Giving Up and Let You Go.
Holly then takes to solo piano for two songs, Alone, from the 2nd album, followed by a wonderful version of Without You, a song written to her husband and featured on the current release.
We are given cover versions of songs by Blaze Foley (Clay Pigeons), Angel From Montgomery (John Prine) and her story of a family car crash and the incredible journey back to a normal life, for her sister is very affecting and captured quite perfectly in the song With Jesus By My Side. Drinkin' is played to great reaction and is quickly followed by a show stopping version of Waiting For June a song tribute to her grandmother, particularly poignant and strong in a live setting.
With an encore of the Hank Williams classic I Saw the LIght, Holly pays tribute to her past and the roots that have given her a great gift of insightful song-writing. We all shared the light with Holly Williams on this special night.
Review and photograph by Paul McGee