Brigitte Naggar, a.k.a. Common Holly, is part of this new generation of female singer-songwriters that are strong and sensible at the same time. Bare-it-all folk and modern electro beat at the same time. Very personal and universal at the same time. Naggar follows in the footsteps of Aimee Mann and St. Vincent at the same time.

Her first ever album, entitled “Playing House”, came out in October 2016, but I was only made aware of her talent when she was part of the 2017 edition of POP Montreal a couple of months ago. Featuring high on my list of “‘Most intriguing talents to discover”, she was one of the few (but still many) artists I listened live during those 5 nights in which 400 musicians played (!). Her concert at Quai des Brumes on September 23 was nothing less than charming, showing confidence and vulnerability at the same time.

Her album kicks off with strongly electronic-based songs. If After All makes her sound like Annie Clark’s earlier material, while later on the album, Common Holly goes from soft beautiful folk songs (Lullaby, which features elegant pianist Jean-Michel Blais) to electric folk songs with great hooks, à la The Dø (like on Nothing). Partner Devon Bate also performed on all 9 songs, mixed and co-produced the album, with Naggar. Kyle Hutchins softly plays drums on a few tracks, while guests Steven Whitely, Amelia Castillo and Laurence Gaudreau take care of the guitar, violin and cello heard here and there.

 

The Rose is a beautiful song that features multiple layers of her own voice, building a nice and soft canvas for her sentimental confidences. Suddenly, electric guitars bring in an unexpected blues feel. I just love it when songs surprise me with creative changes that are nicely done.

In songs like The Desert, where there is a blend of various instruments, from a haunting electric guitar to echo-filled piano notes, we can draw parallels with French Quebecer Salomé Leclerc’s type of arrangements and ambiance. Very well done!

Hopefully, we’ll hear more and more of Common Holly’s art, on stage and on records.

common holly

COMMON HOLLY
Playing House
(Solitaire Recordings, 2016)

– Genre: indie folk electro pop
– In the same style as Salomé Leclerc, or the softer songs of The Dø, with vocal charm of Agnes Obel, and songwriting skills of Aimee Mann

Buy the album on the artist’s BandCamp page
Follow the artist via her Facebook page
Listen to videos on the artist’s YouTube channel

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About The Author

Nicolas Pelletier

Mélomane invétéré et rédacteur agréé, Nicolas pratique la critique en mode olympique: il parle de tout, tout le temps, depuis 1991. Il a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur enMusique.ca, dont il a également été le rédacteur-en-chef de 2009 à 2014. Il publie “Les perles rares et grands crus de la musique” en 2013, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016.