Holiday, Jennah Barry’s second outing, comes a tumultous eight years on from the release of her 2012 debut Young Men.
It was a period of her life that found Barry embarking on an exhaustive touring schedule, and being forced to recover from vocal surgery that could have stopped her musical career in its tracks. However, alongside these events, and on a much happier note amidst the stress and strains, Barry welcomed a child into the world.
Recorded in short bursts to accommodate her new-borns sleeping patterns, Holiday is a record full of the soothing grace you would associate with the delicate tiptoe across floorboards required so as not to wake the kids. Barry’s easy listening folk and polished smooth Americana gently wash away at the coarse edges of formulaic living, embracing the beautiful moments that punctuate the banality of the day to day.
As a collection of tracks Holiday descends into a humid nostalgic reflection, yet each individual song is its own small pocket of joy. Celebrating the ridiculousness of life, Barry reacts to the endless possibilities that can perpetually seem out of grasp, providing a light-hearted perspective most evident on “Rocket” when the inevitable complications of a relationship are dressed down and accepted for what they are. Swaying with a gentle ease these are tracks free from pretence, purpose built to accompany shuffles across the kitchen floor free from any trace of self-consciousness.
The production from musical partner, and partner in life, Colin Neal has a lush extravagance referencing classic pop, glossy folk and soft rock. Barry credits much of the albums framework to him but it's her turn of phrase, and the nuanced balance of her stunning voice, that carry the album.
Holiday may have been a long time coming but it's filled with a uniquely balanced and carefree perspective of acceptance that only years of contemplation and experiences could provide. On the slow chug of closer “Stop The Train” with its soporific bass line and heavy eyed contemplation Barry sings “Everything is fine / We are born / Then years go by”. It is a heartbreakingly succinct summarization of so many lives. Lives lived and lamented for passing too quick, but ultimately ones that are blessed by the presence of others; lives for us to make of what we can.