Thursday, June 25, 2020

Album Review: Holly Bowling - Alone Together The Living Room Sessions Vol 2

Holly Bowling
Alone Together The Living Room Sessions Vol 2
***and1/2 out of *****

Holly Bowling, like many artists on the jam band scene, make their living touring. With the Covid-19 lock down in place that has been impossible in the spring of 2020 so Bowling has hunkered down in her living room and recorded/released a few live performances which are a joy to listen to (safely) in your own living room.

Alone Together The Living Room Sessions Vol 2 shows exactly who Bowling is as she weaves through her classical piano instrumental covers of Grateful Dead, Phish and others. The hour and a half long set directly deals with the original tunes and leaves space for improvisation.  

Cascading opener "China Cat Sunflower" sets the mood as Bowling touches on many aspects of playing with joyful runs, minor dissonance clanging before a dramatic swelling into "Taste". The Billy Breathes tune is a perfect tune for Bowling to use as her piano delivers the tune in direct a direct straight ahead manor. "St. Stephan" goes a different route progressing through lots of phases before pairing well with "Pebbles and Marbles" which slows the pace with a mellow rendition that eases into the first noticeable pause in the playing. 
Bowling next turns her attention to "Crazy Fingers" a song that could be performed straight ahead like "Taste" and fit perfectly, but Bowling jams all around the tune including a bluesy finale that drops smack into an exploratory "Sand". The following "Days Between is stoic and gorgeous in Bowling's fingers before it fades into feedback and a digital pulsing Youngbloods original "Get Together" with loads of energy palpable through the speakers.

Bowling then revisits "St. Stephan" which segues into a searching upbeat version of "The Eleven". The main set closer is a call back to the opener as "I Know You Rider" begins slow, increases to Broadway dramatic levels, while encore "Squirming Coil" brilliantly recalls Page McConnell's piano with reverence as Bowling wraps up a fantastic set of tunes.

Fans of the Dead and Phish are already well aware of Bowling's talents and will thoroughly enjoy this collection, however even if you have never heard those bands, Bowling's classical piano instrumental work is exciting, enjoyable and worth a listen. Whether it is Alone Together The Living Room Sessions Vol 2 or any of her other recent lock down related releases Bowling and her piano work can help ease us through tough times. 
Support the artists, buy the album and peep some video below:

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