1. Lose You
3. Desert Sun
Husband and wife duo Joyce and Christian Bolland (styled as The Bollands) bring together the conviviality of folk, the soul of country, and the deft lyricism of the ballad in their latest EP: the beautifully produced Being.
Having returned to their home turf of New Zealand following many years in Asia, these three songs address aspects of the human psyche which ordinarily we may struggle to access or accept- whether you live overlooking a lush field in the Antipodes, or in a studio flat in Causeway Bay.
Armed with breathy acoustics and vivid lyrical imagery, the Bollands here build a cross-cultural bridge which connects us all via the simple, synonymous experience of being alive.
Desert Sun, with its calming instrumentals of clear acoustics and light, barely-there drums, iterates all the vital hallmarks of a classic folk song. Something about the wizened rasp of Christian Bollands’ voice is distinctly country, reminiscent of a Texan drawl (despite his being very much a Kiwi). The feathery “oohs” in place of a chorus are a pleasant, tuneful distraction from the darker metaphors at play when you listen to the lyrics carefully. The story details a man striking out on his own in the desert, determined to find a new path for himself with the aid of a map. After running out of water, tearing up the map in frustration, and ceding his own defeat at the hands of mortality, he asks an unrelenting God to “make his stand”. Even though his pleas are refused and the man dies in the desert, his journey is completed in death as the wind carries his dusted bones far and wide. A sobering tale at face value, one can draw a comforting metaphor from it: a metaphor for the importance of self-determination and the cyclicality of life. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust; even if you feel you failed in life, the world has a way of working itself out and will give you victory by connecting you to those who have come before, and those who will come after.
Haunting and deeply moving, Lose You allegorises the experience of depression through the lens of terminal illness. Accompanied by a simple, minor key piano melody and eventually a drum kit, the track is a stirring excavation of the realities of mental illness; the fears of losing yourself inside yourself, and the death of the ego as opposed to the body. Various stylistic tools lend a semblance of theatricality, such as the croaky vocal overlay upon “I may be dying” and the spooky effect of the vocal harmonies and distortions in the second verse. When Joyce’s voice joins Christian’s, calling “I thought I was gonna lose you”, this feeling of narrative is extended as more characters join what seems to be a conversation instead of a soliloquy. There is an ebb and flow throughout the song, a vacillation between intensity and peacefulness which is reflected in the musical texture itself. The humble piano and drums are finally joined by an electric guitar and the softest touch of keyboard synths, the Bollands’ voices echoing into nothingness and leaving the listener with the promise of light at the end of the bleak tunnel.
Path adopts a merrier timbre to its counterparts, evocative of Mumford & Sons or even something from the Juno (2007) soundtrack. Lyrically this track incorporates elements of the pastoral, replete with imagery pertaining to horses, trees, and the natural realm as a whole. Comprising an acoustic guitar, keyboard, and punctuated by upbeat bass drum kicks, this song makes the listener nostalgic for a grassy childhood they may or may not have actually experienced. “Hallelujah said the wind as it blows through me,” the Bollands proclaim as synths join the mix for a uniquely 80’s folk flavor, again reinforcing the sentiment of dissonant familiarity which laces the EP. The country-folk aesthetics are the perfect vehicle to carry home the carefree joy of the track, buoying an almost melancholic yearning for simpler times.
Listen to The Bollands’ discography on YouTube, Spotify, and bandcamp.
– Jasmine Gould-Wilson