Five Right Now: Hollan & Zach Wood

Purity and nature are two words that spring to mind when the music of Pennsylvania based, Hollan, begins to play. Atmospheric in every sense of the word, through intricate melodies and a beautifully distinctive core that swells throughout each of her songs, when encapsulated in the world of Hollan you lose track of time, and fall awestruck to the world around you. 

Simplistic in sound, yet brimming with a multitude of avenues for your mind to explore, the warmth that radiates from the artist’s recent Cowgirland EP is indicative of a musician with an old soul and a timeless style of songwriting. Fresh off the back of this EP, we caught up with Anna Manotti aka Hollan to find out who she and collaborator, Zach Wood, has been listening to.

These are their Five Right Now picks:

Anna:  Ray LaMontagne – Highway to the Sun

Ray’s album, Monovision, has been my companion of the summer – coming through the CD console every time I start my car engine. I can’t remember the last time I found an album with every song displaying such a purity to it; it almost feels like John Denver must’ve had a hand in it. If I recall correctly from an interview I listened to, Ray recorded the whole thing at home, writing the songs as he recorded them. An old friend of mine was a big Ray Lamontagne fan and we used to listen to his music together, so as if this album doesn’t already have enough nostalgia in it, Ray always has that area covered in a personal way for me. I decided on Highway to the Sun because, despite the beauty of so much of the record being in its opportunity to escape the hard things, this closing song turns and faces it, gracefully. I’ve caught myself hoping before that when I listen to it, some of that gracefulness might rub off on me too.

Zach:  Options – How About Now

I have this general habit where Seth Engel touches something and I fall in love with it right away. Strip away his production / songwriting talent and you’d still have a notably remarkable drummer. I made my way through most of the Options’ catalogue in a matter of days when I first stumbled across it a few years ago. His latest album is a bit of a new direction – apart from his previous works I’ve enjoyed – and it still works perfectly.

Anna:  Charlie Whitten – A Long Time

I first heard this song after its release last summer and it’s been resurfacing in my mind and preferences this summer as well, which I take to be a good sign. I met Charlie down in Nashville a few months before this record came out – when I had the pleasure of working with him on one of my own songs. I think for as long as I have ears, and for as long as his music exists, I’ll be surprised that Charlie Whitten isn’t a household name until someday it is. His music really is just that classic to me. It’s this song’s assuredness that really gets to me though. I remember I was driving home from the pool on what felt like a very hopeless and overcast Pennyslvanian summer’s eve in 2020 when I realised who the song was written for. It feels weird, these days, to hope for things sometimes. Making plans, real plans, feels like more of a risk than ever, as if life isn’t enough of that already. Sometimes there really isn’t something quite as sobering as hearing someone be sure.

Zach:  Carrie Carlton Quartet –  City Morning Views 

This makes me feel like I’m 20 years old again and venturing out to live in a city for the first time. It evokes feelings of exciting possibilities and new paths, which I think is an especially powerful feeling after the last year and a half. When I’m feeling a bit tense and restricted from others, it’s nice to doze off to this song and wander around my neighborhood. I know the title suggests it’s morning, but it does wonders for city night views too.

Zach & Anna’s pick:  Memorial – A Hero’s Death

Zach and I first found Memorial via Instagram, somehow, right around the time we were starting to record Cowgirland. I remember they had posted a couple little clips of the songs they were working on, and Zach and I sent a few of them back and forth to each other – we were really caught by their sound. Each of their releases this year have been beautiful, but it was such a twist to hear a reimagined Fontaine’s DC track be carved into a folk song: one we’ve both really been enjoying this summer.

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