Bardot Smile is the debut solo album from songwriter/guitarist Jamie Holoran, released 12th June 2021.
In his own words it is “the album I should have made 25yrs ago” representing – finally – the sound that he always wanted for his music but evidently struggled to achieve when working in large studios with other producers.
I can only say that it is a sad waste that he didn’t get his act together much, much sooner than this. Because this is a great record by anyone’s standard.
It’s 12 tracks are an ideal showcase for Holoran’s versatiity as a songwriter. From beautiful, classic piano ballads (When Summer’s Gone, First Rays…) to sparkling indie pop (If You Come Around, Days Like These) to funky soul (Free Life, Sunshine in a a Bottle). There’s even a punchy hip-hop flavour to the 60’s lounge vibe of Jackie’s Racing. Impressively, the clarity of production and direction throughout Bardot Smile never allows the album to feel anything less than a perfectly realised and cohesive whole.
Holoran writes specifically for the female voice and Bardot Smile features an array of accomplished singers delivering top performances. Catchy melodies are plentiful as are rich harmonies and tasteful instrumentals designed to allow both songcraft and vocals to take centre stage.
This is an effortlessly fresh and upbeat record featuring some really excellent songwriting,. It is happy in its own skin and doesn’t suffer from any sense of obligation to sound contemporary. (There are plenty of earthy acoustic guitars and organ seems to favoured over synthesiser for the most part.)
Lovers of classic song-based music – particularly that which is female sung – will doubtless consider Bardot Smile (and Holoran in general) to be a welcome antidote to the polished production increasingly prevalent in modern music.
When trying to pinpoint references the variety across the album again becomes apparent. Whilst there are breezy melodies reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac, Carole King or classic Motown, there are also hints of darker and more leftfield influences at play, perhaps from the nihilistic British indie bands of the mid 80s? So a melting pot indeed, but one that is readily accessible and, certainly for this listener, quickly rewarding.
And, until now, I haven’t even mentioned my favourite track on the album – the closer Deception Part 3 (I Just Want to be Loved). Easily the most epic cut on the record, haunting and remorseful and overflowing with tasteful guitar riffs, this is a rare case of a 6+ minute song that could easily motor along for another couple of minutes without even beginning to outstay its welcome.
With so much music being released on a daily basis, I only hope that this gem of an album doesn’t fail to make the impact it merits. After such a long time in the wilderness, Holoran deserves his day in the sun.
Stephanie Sigmundson (formerly A&R for Innerstate Records)