Holly McNarland – Rub Body Run album review

Canadian indie artists are having a banner year. The New Pornographers are still on tour, Feist has a top ten slot on the pop/alt charts and Arcade Fire just picked up a Juno award for Best Alt Album. Holly McNarland may have big shoes to fill with her seventh album, Run Body Run.  Back in the studio with no label and no producer, she wrote her own songs for this very personal journey. Occasionally introspective, such as the lead-off  Alone’s Just Fine or dishing out wisdom on the country-rocker It’s Only Money (“It’s only money, suck it up honey, Gravity’s got you and she’s a mean mean…), McNarland pours her heart into each line. Resonating bass and a full-metal guitar, her mid-range vocals find the sweet spot. The tracks flow together without sounding like a rehash and they are all different enough to be identifiable in spirit as well as in melody.

McNarland is no slouch writing lyrics straight from real life. She acknowledges the scrapes and scars and comes back all wrapped up in gauze and ready for more:

I hear the broken voices
Calling me all through the night
So I look up to the sky and I breath your name and sigh.

There are a couple of single-release candidates: After I’m Gone has CNSY-style reverb and quavery soulful vocals and the aforementioned opener Alone  should do well on alt/indie stations and maybe a little pop crossovers, if the station programmers are feeling brave.

Having put out six previous records, McNarland could be considered a seasoned artist and deep into her career. This album takes a nostalgic look back at the relationships that formed the person she is now, reflecting on what she should have done to save them or why she didn’t let go sooner. It’s not a sad collection by any means, as a matter of fact the title track is the last on and is an encouragement to her daughter to go out and grab her life and enjoy it. It’s a great way to end a solid piece of work.

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