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HOLLIE COOK

Hollie Cook

Happy Hour In Dub

    Merge Records release Happy Hour in Dub, a heavenly set of dub versions to pair with Hollie Cook’s critically acclaimed 2022 album Happy Hour. Her first full dub record since 2012, Happy Hour in Dub was coaxed into being by close listening of the original album’s modern lover’s rock.

    Cook and Mckone explain:“The reason and inspiration for wanting to make the dub record is because Happy Hour, in its original form, has so many intricate musical details running throughout the songs from the backing vocal and string arrangements to some far more subtle details. And during the mixing process, hearing some of these parts on their own over the drum and bass foundation, we felt there was so much left to explore and expose in the songs and take them to outer space.”

    At the controls rejoining Hollie in exploring the space is Happy Hour producer Ben Mckone, who takes her soulful creations and stretches them to their sonic limits, with new vocal features by Josh Skints and Kiko Bun.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Blissful dubbed-out version of Hollie Cook's original LP, Happy Hour. Where the original was rich in light, airy groove and sunshine, these versions show how the rich instrumentation is as flexible as it is effective. A great listen, and an even better companion to the original LP.

    TRACK LISTING

    SIDE A
    1. Praying Dub
    2. Dub My Way
    3. Dub In The Dark
    4. Golden Dub Feat. Rosie Turton
    SIDE B
    5. Unkind Dub
    6. Kush Dub Feat. Josh Skints & Jah9
    7. Full Moon Dub
    8. Dubbing On Feat. Kiko Bun
    9. Happy Dub

    Hollie Cook

    Happy Hour

      With Happy Hour, her ravishing new LP, Hollie Cook matures into the queen of modern day “lovers rock”—the lush girly harmony reggae style beloved in Britain since the 1970s. Evolution rings from the bittersweet opening title track; tender yet assertive, Hollie’s voice caresses evocative lyrics through the arrangement’s tumbling changes.

      Hollie dares to invite listeners into her true personality through these alluring songs, which she co-produced with her General Roots band members Ben Mckone and Luke Allwood, and executive producer Youth.

      “Particularly with the songwriting, I was trying to really push myself and be open, to not be restricted in any way. I have always been a fan of theatrical pop music and wanted to experiment more with the song form.” Indeed, the dizzying arrangement of “Gold Girl” shows Hollie as boldly orchestrated, cinematic. “Now I don’t shy away from it when I want to be dramatic,” she declares.

      The record itself is a product of great drama: the pandemic. After eight years of touring together, General Roots—keyboards man Luke Allwood, drummer Ben Mckone, guitarist Joe Price, and bassist James Mckone—have truly become Hollie’s band. They all spent quarantine together, honing songs they had started writing pre-COVID. “I used to definitely lean on my producers (Prince Fatty and Youth), but my vision was always to write and produce with my band,” she explains. “We are a circle of trust.”

      Full of emotion, leaning into healing and understanding, Hollie’s lyrics on Happy Hour speak directly to our pain and confusion and steer us towards resolution on tracks like “Moving On,” “Unkind Love,” and “Love in the Dark.” The album’s closer, “Praying,” is inspired by a trauma in her close friendship circle. “I was feeling raw and had to figure out how to find strength and express myself in a time of crisis, where to turn if you are not of a particular faith,” she says. Though spiritual, Hollie is no saint, inviting us to rave on “Move My Way,” which she describes as “a party song inspired by the Notting Hill Carnival.” Hollie is also a wise woman—literally the “Full Moon Baby” she summons so seductively. And like any good witch, Hollie understands the power of medicinal herbs on “Kush Kween,” her collaboration with Jamaican singer Jah9. These are love incantations that would be wrong to resist. “It’s about finding a space where you can reach for moments of light, love, and self-care,” she explains.

      Touring as a teenager with punk legends The Slits encouraged the fierceness within her sweetness. Hollie’s mentor was Ari Up, the band’s lead singer and a lifelong friend of Cook’s parents (Sex Pistols drummer Paul and her singer mother Jeni). “My father always said I would be a singer. But I discovered lovers rock on my own. I heard it on pirate radio and at friends’, and I was bewildered, enchanted,” she recalls. “The Slits are the reason I have pursued this career. I was surrounded by powerful women at a young age, and when my time came, I was never fazed by male dominance. They were my wall of courage.”

      From those feisty roots, Hollie has only grown. Her soulful directness on Happy Hour is relatable and authentic. “I can’t get away from it,” she says. “Making this music that I love, I do turn deep inside myself. It makes me explore a lot of human truths and feelings that we should not shy away from, and it feels like a release to turn them into songs.” — Vivien Goldman.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Hollie Cook's new LP has all the swooning beauty of her previous outing, Vessel Of Love but this time leans even more heavily into traditional pop structures, leaving the sound both wilfully pristine and undeniably catchy. The perfect summer album.

      TRACK LISTING

      SIDE A
      1. Happy Hour
      2. Moving On
      3. Full Moon Baby
      4. Kush Kween (featuring Jah9)
      5. Unkind Love
      SIDE B
      6. Gold Girl
      7. Love In The Dark
      8. Move My Way
      9. Praying

      The album is the follow-up to her fantastic eponymous debut album which was released to huge acclaim in 2011, with Q calling it "gorgeous late '70's style reggae pop" whilst the BBC named it as "one of the most enjoyable reggae albums of 2011". In 2012 a dub version of the debut album was released – "Prince Fatty Presents Hollie Cook In Dub". That same year Ian Brown asked Hollie to support The Stone Roses on one of their hugely anticipated reunion shows at Manchester's Heaton Park.

      The new album "Twice" sees Hollie's obvious love of reggae joined by other influences including Bond-like strings, Brazilian percussion, dark disco and shades of Giorgio Moroder. She is joined on the album by Dennis Bovell, Omar, George Dekker and Winston Francis. The strings on the album are the Macedonian Radio Symphonic Orchestra and Choir. The album was produced by Prince Fatty.

      Hollie Cook

      Hollie Cook

        Hollie Cook was born and bred in West London in a household dominated by music. She gravitated to the sounds of Marc Bolan, David Bowie and The Cure. With Sex Pistol Paul Cook as her dad, music was always around. Entering professional acting, singing and modelling at a young age, Hollie soon rejected her performance arts schooling for a musical path truer to her influences. Family friend and Slits singer Ari Up persuaded Hollie to sing backing vocals for a new EP "Revenge Of The Killer Slits", which she followed by ditching school to join the band on a six week US tour. Hollie was now an official Slit - Ari referred to Hollie as the 'second singer' - so when it came to record a new Slits album in LA, Hollie's vocals, keyboards and even her song "Cry" all featured. More collaborations followed: a duet with Jamie T on his "Chaka Demus" EP, with Ian Brown on "The World Is Yours", and most significantly as featured vocalist on Prince Fatty's underground reggae hit "Milk & Honey". Hollie jumped at the chance to get in the studio with Mike as she was smitten by the tracks she had heard. Hollie's passion for reggae singers Janet Kay and Phyllis Dillon combined with classic 60s girl groups formed the basis for her new solo work of self coined 'tropical pop'. Sweet.


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