Originally from Los Angeles, CA and now based in Montreal, QC, Neil Holyoak has recorded and recorded four solo albums. And on those albums he’s worked with a variety of indie rock superstars including engineer and producer Dave Smith, who has worked with Wolf Parade, Stars, Patrick Watson, the Luyas and others; and Howard Bilerman, who was once a member of Arcade Fire. Holyoak has also recently opened for Bon Iver’s S.Carey. And all of that should give you a sense that Holyoak is an up-and-coming singer/songwriter, who has started to make waves across the blogosphere.
Interestingly, his most recent songs are heavily influenced by Townes Van Zandt, French symbolist poetry and the acoustic blues of Mali, and he’s coupled that with playing country songs with a surrealist tinge with a band consisting of Tamara Sandor (bass and voice), Lewis Handford (drums) and Michael Begin (pedal steel).
“Fancy Moonlight” is the first single off Holyoak’s fifth (and forthcoming) full-length album, Rags Across the Sun is slated for a September release, and the song has a hushed, unhurried beauty that comes from a breezy yet gorgeous melody. But what struck me is that Holyoak’s lyrics, which manage to possess the stream of consciousness-like logic of a dream, also manage to reveal a painterly attention to detail. Here every deliberate stroke adds to a nuanced detail, and begins to form a much larger picture. But let’s not forget that Holyoak has a such a pleasant voice that everytime I’ve played the song, I’ve felt a deep sensation of peace within me – and I suspect that you’ll feel the same.