It has been two years since Hollie Fullbrook released her critically acclaimed debut album and since then she has been touring it through Europe and slowly but surely working on new songs. Haunts is an EP comprised of demos and b-sides mostly written prior to Some Were Meant For Sea so even though it is a step forward in terms of a new release it is one that casts an eye back to Fullbrook’s early writing, perhaps a resetting of the radar prior to unveiling a new, already recorded full length later in 2013.
There is a stronger blues influence in this set of songs, more so than the folkier strains of her album. That isn’t to say that folk is cast aside, it is still the central framework of her music, but Fullbrook’s warm and weary burr of a voice lends itself to the blues quite wonderfully. ‘Rolling Mill Blues’, a cover of a Peg Leg Howell song, feels like the focal point of the EP with its gently tumbling fingerpicked guitar, warm jazz toned piano and traditional story of love and death.
Fullbrook’s voice is a magnificent instrument that draws you in close, its intimacy making you feel like she is singing to you and you alone. She lets her words slur and gently bleed into one another which gives them a half whispered, half sung feeling as she sits back on the beat, swaying and dreamily steering the songs. ‘Cold Comfort’, a song often aired live, takes in country strains akin to Townes van Zandt and again widens her oeuvre proving that she is much more than a folk singer.
She leaves us with ‘Always You, Tiptoeing Through’ a reminder of her talent for storytelling within a song. The way she paints small pictures of scenes and vignettes, drawing you into the song and then delivers a bittersweet, ‘straight to the heart’ chorus is the essence of her songwriting ability. This makes Haunts a magical teaser for the stories that will inhabit her next album now that she has travelled so widely and immeasurably increased her life experiences over the last few years.