Polly and the Billets Doux
Hold Fast EP
added: 28 May 2012
// release date: 28 May 2012 // label: Bleak Mouse
reviewer: Dave Snell
The “Hold Fast” EP is an interesting little snapshot into the world of Polly Perry and her Billets Doux – following on from 2010’s “Fiction, Half-Truths and Downright Lies”, the bands tone remains consistent, fusing blues, country and gospel to a sometimes electric peak, but once again falling foul of being such a very niche sound. Which is a shame, as it’s a very good sound, perfectly suited to the current spates of hot spells we seem to be enjoying at the moment.
“Hold Fast” is the lead in, with bluesy, gritty vocals, veering between country and rock n roll, with a clearly Americana sound - the chugging groove is interesting, if lacking in a little variance, but then, the lifting harmonies and balanced counter rhythms do well to draw the ear. Although unlikely to set the world aflame, it’s a cheery opener that settles the listener in, as opposed to making them sit up.
“Factory Whistle” features a more sonically interesting riff, with more bluesy, whimsy lyrics creating a wall of upbeat that is hard to resist tapping your feet to. Eschewing the need to preach," Factory Whistle" is simply light breezy listening, bordering on a country guitar solo, before wrapping up in prompt fashion with a little more of the bouncy drumming and cheeky guitar licks.
Third track “Hymn Song” changes the tempo for a mellower, more soulful experience, with some simple guitar lines flowing below a more balanced Polly lead vocal, blending in some really excellent harmonies for a very chilled sound. “If I fall from the stars, would you come home?” she sings, and this sweet, winsome tale of questioning becomes a slightly darker story of demanded responses and almost painful longing for answers from a distant lover.
Last up is “Fortune of War” – sounding like a sixties throwback, riding the vibes of the summer of love (even down to the protest-lite lyrics), “Fortune of War” seems to blend the various harmonies well to support Polly’s mainline vocals, as opposed to clash against them. The overall sound probably makes for the best track of all – feeling like a lost B-side to a classic such as “Marrakech Express”, or similar.
This EP’s format works, as it keeps the sounds rolling for long enough without running out of steam, yet still suffering from such a limited appeal that it is a small shame that so many will pass this by. “Hold Fast” is a great little look at a band not afraid to mix it up a little, and a fantastic taster for their previous album for the uninitiated.
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