I listened to Gina Holsopple’s new album, Unless, while I was on my couch doing some work. I found my head floating about to her hypnotizing piano and Romantic lyrics, instantly transplanting my stress with glee. I really dig this album. It has a similar sound to so many other artists I have heard, but somehow Gina’s music slithered into my bones. There’s a rude authenticity in its feel and sound that I eagerly support. The question you are all inevitably wondering: is it any good? What is Good music? The debate is endless and so are the aspiring candidates. The answer is simple really; good music is any music that inspires desirable feelings. Gina Holsopple will most certainly do that.
Gina is a traveler and her music takes on the traveler’s air. The light footed and swift-paced mentality resonates in the songs, which are just as well sung in the concert hall as on the trail; songs like, “If I Were”and “Long Dirt Road”are perfect ditties to hum while you walk. No matter where you’re headed, this album will make the journey a little brighter with its playful imagery and clever rhymes. The songs in the album are co-written and performed by Matt Wood, along with Gina the triple entente of acoustic guitar, piano, and violin give the music a mountain feel. It is like a tamed sort of bluegrass, not as wild or rascal-bout. It’s softer, more composed, and a little more mid-western. iTunes classifies the album as “Singer/Songwriter” which I can only interpret to mean folk. Although a broad classification, it is music for the people by the people. It is delivered in concise, easy to remember doses (on average two and a half minutes a pop), and it has an innate country feel, which brings it into, or damn close to the folk genre.
Let Gina Holsopple grow on you. Her meandering melodies and winsome voice are sure to make your foot tap, head bob, and lips open wide with a smile. Unless, is not a revolutionary piece of artwork, but it is good music, and good music is good enough. Any album you can listen to start to finish, over and over is worth your time and money. There is something to be said about homegrown music, and this is what I have to say. Support the grass roots musicians in the business because they’re the ones who make it real. I look forward to Gina’s next album; hopefully this one stirs up the pond enough to get her name out there. Easy listening everyone, enjoy.
Brad Crescenzo-MuzikReviews.com Contributor February 16, 2009 ©MuzikReviews.com
Have you ever wondered what the Moldy Peaches would sound like if they were a little less cynical and a lot less crass? No? Neither have I. But if I were to make an educated guess, I might tell you they’d sound an awful lot like Gina Holsopple.
Holsopple hails from Kansas, by way of New York, so perhaps its no coincidence that the music on her new album Unless spins lyrical tales of affirming Midwest values with the witticism of a poetic soul, who grew up Minonite (yes—it’s true) before conquering coffeehouses across the Big Apple.
I was immediately struck by Holsopple’s sincerity and gentle voice. She sings with quiet confidence and strikes some particularly beautiful notes on "You Need Love." My favorite track is the title track for two reasons. The melody is dangerously catchy -- everyone says that, I know, but seriously it is. And second, it might be the greatest folk song to ever reference pirates in the chorus.
"I Pick Flowers" was another simple, endearing track. I learned this with Damien Rice, but "Flowers" once again reminded me that you don’t need a megaphone and a stack of Orange amplifiers to make a profound and lasting impression on your audience.
I would have liked to hear a little more variation among the song’s intros and with the instrumentation in general, but I realize that when it comes to Americana and acoustic folk, options are limited. There’s also some yodeling that falls short of the mark on "Midnight Prarie," but again, that might just be because I’m a yodeling elitist and have the disadvantage of having heard Jewel do it to perfection when she came and performed at my high school when I was in the ninth grade.
I really enjoyed this album and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys folk, frequents coffeehouses, or spends a significant amount of time in the East Village.
Rain Princess is an exercise in contrast. On the front of the album is a young, petite Gina Holsopple, while contained in the album is a collection of songs that exude experiences well beyond her possible age. I guess Holsopple is one of those people with the rare gift of early maturity and insight.
These qualities create an album that is a marriage of E.E. Cummings' nonsensical whimsies with Virginia Woolf's stream-of-consciousness, whose offspring is a delightful mixture of delirium, joy and confusion. From notions of the absurd to social commentary to sweet love songs, Holsopple's gentle, inviting vocal style makes any subject curiously odd and approachable.
Her gentility is especially evident in the title track, "Rain Princess." This song, more than any other on the album, is pure imagination somehow caught in words. It's a beautiful abstract song that is perfect for her voice. Her voice also suits the role of narrator in "Maria," a sad but true story similar to many women stuck in abusive relationships. Sadly, the fear of what life could be overrides the life that is. Maria can hope and think of a better life but is confined to her reality.
Holsopple doesn't limit her songs to soft and serene. "How Much I Love You" is the catchiest tune that explains the confusion of love that is embedded with curiosity and joy and pain. "What Do You See" is a fun quirky song that deconstructs everyone's favorite heroines of bedtime stories (Cinderella, Rapunzel, Goldilocks, etc.) There's also the curious song "Kaleidoscope" (a perfect title for this song). She covers concepts that do seem to be self-regenerating -- everything has happened before yet its newness is the only difference. Just like a kaleidoscope, you're seeing the same things over and over, it's just broken by a prism.
From her off-kilter conceptual demeanor to her shy voice, Gina Holsopple has this appealing gentle quality that evokes wisdom, despite her youthful, pixieish appearance. It's this haunting hypnotic effect that makes me want to sit down and hear what she has to say. (I would love to hear her perform live.) Rain Princess is truly the effort of an artist, a collection of challenging and intriguing songs.
- Rambles written by C. Nathan Coyle published 23 August 2003
I always thought my folksy acoustic guitar collection was complete with some early Ani diFranco and that live Indigo Girls album. I’ve found there might be room for another.
Gina Holsopple has managed to wedge her way in with a thoughtful coffee shop sound with less banal lyrics. With her self-titled third release, Holsopple manages to produce a CD that represents her growth as an artist. A singer/songwriter living in New York City, Holsopple gives us acoustic guitar, lyrics that encompass the personal and social activism, and a sweet voice whose self-harmonies are smooth and warm.
Remarkably shorter than her previous album, Long Night In A Movie Theatre, the compositions of, Gina Holsopple, hold greater diversity in song-sound and lyrical themes. She is an artist who claims to use her music as a voice for social change and as a tool to empower others. She starts this CD with a spoken word poem entitled “Bodies: a lesson in control”, possibly the strongest piece of the collection for its unique sound and the lilt of her voice. She proceeds with acoustic guitar works that explore subject matter ranging from gender and body issues, colonization and politics to personal relationships. She is neither an expert guitarist, nor a classically trained singer, but her sound and words are an inspiration and a comfort. Having said such, she has developed as an artist since previous recordings, gaining strength in her musicianship and an increased quality of lyrical content. Her language and subjects vary more and are less cliché.
Gina Holsopple is poised to leap off of the coffeehouse stage and into a wider audience, as her skills grow greater. But you wouldn¹t be disappointed to take a serious listen now or pop in to see her live sometime. I¹ll be there waiting to see her jump.
Gina Holsopple will be performing live at Jammin’ Java (231 Maple Avenue, Vienna, Virginia) on February 7th. The show starts at 8 p.m. and the cost of the show is $8.
Drinking Buddies: Indigo Girls, Ani diFranco, and Lisa Loeb
By Alicia Wallace (writer for On Tap, Washington, DC)