REVIEW: Horace Holloway’s “Tin Foil Stars” Pines for Meaning


Tin Foil Stars from Horace Holloway is out October 4th on Dirtleg Records. Tin Foil Stars features contributions from of a group of folk indie rock’s top sidemen and women that includes Caitlin Cary (Whiskeytown), Catherine Popper (Jack White, Grace Potter, Ryan Adams and the Cardinals), Neil Flanz (Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris), Scott Brackett (Okkervil River, Murder by Death), Fleurie (Lauren Strahm), and Brett Williams (Mighty Joe Plum). “And there’s nothing we can do, but leave it up to chance, and maybe we’ll get lucky, it’ll work out like we planned,” Holloway sings over a snare shuffle and mournful pedal steel on album opener, “King of Diamonds.” Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good; on this record Holloway and company are both.

The opening line of “Paper Heroes” lays out Holloway’s attitude toward modern life, as he sings, “temporary people living temporary lives, in a land of paper heroes with nothing on the inside, just say you don’t believe in hope, but I can see it in your eyes.” Hollowness, lack of meaning, and lack of substance abound, but hope for more carries Holloway through.

A message of concern and hopefulness in the midst of trying events shines through again on “Love & War” features Catlin Cary on vocals. “They say all is fair in love and war, now I’m caught between everything I dream and everything you hoped for,” she sings. Cary and Holloway’s voices duel through the bridge, ultimately concluding, “You’re meant for better things, living life and loving free, and that’s all I want for you.” Cary is also featured on the more up-tempo “El Santuario De Chimayo” that glides over a refreshing breeze of acoustic guitar, pedal steel, and shuffling snare while depicting a scene of religious pilgrimage and the healing power of faith. “They scoop the earth and fill bags to take it with them, in hopes of bringing healing back for their parents and children, and how great would it be to have God’s grace in a pouch, hung up on the wall inside of your house,” they sing.

“White Winter Heart” closes this collection with piano, violin, and Holloway’s vocal. “It’s like your shoes don’t fit you, when you look down you see someone else’s feet…going through the motions, going through the motions,” Holloway sings as he contemplates the difficult necessity that comes when one must cut ties with a former self in order to move forward. As with the message throughout Tin Foil Stars, Horace Holloway determines that pain will be unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean that all hope or love is lost. On Tin Foil Stars, Horace Holloway pines for meaning behind the artifice of modern life.


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