Bullyheart is the new project from LA based musician Holly Long and it reflects on living life in a complex world
As “Antigravity” began to play I was immediately thrust into Holly Long’s world, a world of 80s rock, strong women, and incredible vocals. The title track becomes an anthem purely through the strength and power of Holly’s voice. The lyrics are just repetitive and melodramatic enough for it to instantly become catchy, and the influence of Pat Benatar is evident in its style. From the first line, we know that this is a badass woman who’s been through just about everything and is happy to give you advice, even if it means admitting her own mistakes.
The album’s second song, “Thin Air”, opens slower and is more chilled out, building up into a powerful yet still relaxed piece. Holly’s vocal strength is again evident, and she uses it to highlight great lines like “hey now Mr. Everybody loves me…. watch me disappear into thin air”. Already, only two tracks in, Bullyheart has demonstrated two very different styles, both playing on Holly’s vocal ability. “No Pleasing You” was the band’s first single, and it’s easy to see why. The rich vocals are almost sultry, and the lyrics are rife with fantastical imagery, such as “angel flirting with the dark side/ the devil’s floating in the glass”.
Next comes ballad-like “How Was I To Know”, perhaps my favourite song on the album. A slow number, it really showcases Holly’s vocal talent and the purity of her sound. A reflective side is brought forth, with a tender yet possibly jealous feeling coming through in the lines “all the stars do shine upon you now/ you found your place between them”. At the height of Holly’s vocals, she could be compared to Bonnie Tyler in the 90s, an excellent style that’s definitely worth drawing inspiration from.
“Lost My Nerve” follows, another slow one. Though apparently she’s lost both her nerve and her will, Holly’s power has not diminished and her vocals, though melancholy, remain rich and strong.
The energy is back up with “Panic Attack”, though at the detriment of the vocals. Trying a new style, Bullyheart fight their way through this upbeat track with strong instrumentals, however it doesn’t do much for Holly’s voice. By that I mean that we’d previously been listening to an absolute goddess and we’ve suddenly been flung back into the mortal realm. It doesn’t quite detract from the feel-good vibe we first experienced in the title track, however it’s not nearly as polished as its predecessors.
“The Pendulum” brings us back into a slower pace, with an ominous feeling penetrating the track. Morose lyrics combine with strong, dark vocals to construct a cocoon of swirling depression that’s just as beautiful as it is sad. The next track, “Shaken”, has a bit of a bounce to it, but again the vocals are a little weak. The longer notes remind us of the power of Holly’s voice, proving that drawn-out sounds are her forte. The lyrics are still a little down though, lines like “you would be so angry if you could get up off your knees” suggesting that yeah, the song’s upbeat and all but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a woman who’s seen some things that would make you think twice about the nature of humanity. Killer guitar riffs emerge between verses, a reminder of the constant excellence of the instruments throughout the album.
“There Goes My Man” is up next, filled with palpable tension and more of an edge than we’ve heard so far. Again, the vocals aren’t quite as strong as the first block of tracks, however the confidence Holly emanates does its part to make up for it. “Stay” closes the album, showing off Holly’s vocal prowess one last time. We experience her full vocal range, complete with some odd drops to low notes. The lyrics are mournful, “whoever stole my smile is a jerk”, and tired, “this is a well-worn refrain”, making the song into a kind of requiem for innocence and happiness. We’re reminded of the hardships of life, but they’re presented in a beautiful way by a beautiful voice so it doesn’t seem so bad.
I thoroughly enjoyed this album, and it’s a fair step from my usual tastes so I was glad of the opportunity to explore a small part of Holly’s world of rock music and vocals that are just a little bit country. I stand in awe of her talent, though a little more stylistic consistency would be nice- she’s capable of pretty much anything, but that doesn’t mean it’s all going to be of the same quality.