Album Review: St Pete Holland – Seven Deadly Hymns

This is the best album of 2018 that you haven’t heard. I guarantee it. If you come to EarToTheGround to find exceptional music that is under your radar, sit back and enjoy. This album is going to blow you away.

Every year we find an artist who seems to come out of left field and shock us. St Pete Holland is that artist for 2018, putting together and incredible set of modern folk tracks that have us jammin every day. The album starts with the catchy literate “Capulets.” Remember when you were in high school and “had to” read Shakespeare? Well here’s where it pays off – when a slick indie band references him with this sly style. The whistle track is just icing on the cake of an enjoyable chill overall song.

“Small Talk” hits me in an existential way. I am always running out of small things to say, preferring to go deeper when most other people don’t want to go any deeper. The theme of the song has substance in calling out the lack of substance in others. The easy going acoustic vibe for it provides the perfect vehicle to define the vapid existence that so many of us experience. This really reminds me of something the Beatniks would have written a generation ago.

The following “Lullaby” is the song that first introduced me to SPH. The sincerity in the vocal immediately sucks you into the song, but then you listen to the lyrics and it’s so hard to ignore. It’s about selling yourself to the devil to be a bit of a lothario. It’s fascinating and goes down smooth, like a good Scotch. Also, it’s definitely not a stereotypical lullaby…

“Yours and Mine” is an engaging folk rock tune that puts me in mind of someone like Don McLean. There’s a tradition here of lyrically driven rock. In some ways, the song feels like what Dawes initially sounded like in the early albums I loved so much. It’s nice to hear that someone carries that torch. “We’ll still get high on the memories” is one of my favorite lyrical concepts I’ve heard all year. Charming, poignant, and ultimately true.

The following track about “New York, NY” might make you roll your eyes. “Ok, we get it, NYC is cool.” But what I love about this track is that it’s not some Broadway show stopper. It’s more like a love song to a broken place. There’s a sense of joy, sure, but also the feeling of hurt and pain as well. It’s a blues tune about having your heart broken in an iconic place.

The live version of “SOS” is actually stunningly fun on here and makes me want to see SPH live really bad. It’s weird to go from “who are these guys?” to “I want to see them live” in a matter of a few songs, but this album packs that kind of punch. It also shows that the vocal is not some sort of studio magic. This is original and special tone, intonation, and delivering always-thoughtful lyrics.

So the final track “Leslie Likes It Loud” was the first song I shared from SPH with my personal friends on social media. I was shocked(!), stunned(!) even of the people who liked the song considering the theme. It’s nice to get back to the use of metaphor, even if it’s thinly veiled. In a world of so many explicit tracks lacking nuance, it’s nice to hear one that is awfully fun to sing with friends while you collectively try not to blush too much.

This album is a joy from start to finish. It’s equally enjoyable in your own headphones in a coffee shop as it is at a party with friends asking “who is this?” Tell them. Share it. SPH are the kind of band we love to support because they’re great fun and going places. Shout them out on social media and tell them Greg at ETTG says hi.

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