Tara Holloway
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Tara Holloway

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | INDIE | AFM

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2005
Solo Alternative Blues




"Ottawa Blues Fest – Check out who’s playing"

When Miss Tara Holloway opens up, you immediately get the sense that there's someone real here. You remember what it's like to feel music rather than listen to it. She's been compared to some of the more esteemed female artists of the present and past . . . to the confessional style of Lucinda Williams, the haunting wail of Stevie Nicks, the broken charm of Shelby Lynne, yet there is no mistaking that this is a truly original voice—someone new.

A troubadour by nature and adventurer at heart, Tara’s been singing and playing her songs across Canada, extensively, and started hitting south of the border into Nashville, Austin and Los Angeles, making fans with an immediate connection and a loose knit circuit of top notch musicians. Along the way, she caught the attention of enigmatic ex-Jellyfish front man Andy Sturmer. Sturmer encouraged her to record some songs with his friend, L.A. producer Dave Way who has worked with Fiona Apple, Macy Gray & Sheryl Crow. Some early recordings fell upon the ears of music supervisor Bob Thiele Jr. who plucked several tracks for the FX television show "Sons of Anarchy" (Thiele has subsequently received an Emmy nomination for the show's music).

Tara Holloway’s EP Sins to Confess was released in 2010. - Ottawa Blues Fest

"Tara Holloway - Sins To Confess (CD Review)"

Tara Holloway – Sins To Confess

With a title like this you expect a raunchy, bluesy expedition into grown woman territory. You get the expedition, you get the raunch, and you get the blues (plus a cutting edge in tunes and variety in tempo), but I am not sure that Tara is all that old. It is not the voice, which has a command of the material and sounds, at times, totally careworn yet compelling; it is the freshness that is present in every breath, every note. So, whatever her age (and she has been around making music in Canada now since the early 2000’s), this first album, although on the short side – or maybe because of it – is chock full of bittersweet songs that are put over with a very credible verve and passion.

Her delivery of them is enhanced by producer / songwriting-partner Dave Way, and together, over a number of years, they have come up with a pretty fine debut that harnesses her voice to near perfection.

The very least you can say about her is that she can really carry a tune. The most you might be able to say about her is that here is a new star on the horizon, and her name is Tara Holloway.

Kev A. - Leicester Bangs

"Candybox feature"

I’m standing in the mens’ restroom, camera in hand, inside Momo’s nightclub in Austin, TX. The door is open, exposing the lavatory to the narrow walk-through that serves as a passage from the outside deck into the club’s booth area.

I don’t really care that some guy is in there wondering what I’m taking pictures of. It’s the only way I can get a full-length shot of the girl standing on the other side of the doorway, up against the red painted brick wall opposite me. She’s holding a Corona. I’m glad she’s game for one last set of pictures. We’ve been shooting at a different location for a couple of hours already, and I know she didn’t expect to continue the shoot at the club. I tell her this is the last picture, “I promise.”

Just a few minutes before, Tara Holloway was taking it all in as we sat on the steps of Momo’s deck. From there, you’ve got a relatively good view of the stage and can hear the music without it being on top of you. Kacy Crowley was doing a solo acoustic set for the small late-afternoon crowd. Holloway sat jotting notes into her red Moleskine. “I’m not copying her lyrics. Really, I’m not!,” she assured me with a playful grin.

And she has no reason to. Like Crowley, Holloway writes from a very honest and open place. It’s so real you can feel it. It’s so good, you want to hear it over and over.

You have a great laugh. It’s one of the first things people think of when they think of you.

It’s something that people can’t help but to mock actually! hahHAhHa! They mean it affectionately, but it happens a lot where I laugh, and then someone else does the whole Count Dracula thing. Is that what I sound like? Laughing is the best thing ever… hahahHAhhahha!

Your voice is often compared to some of the great female vocalists for its strength, texture, and heartfelt power? You know what I’m talking about. How do you feel about those comparisons?

I feel GREAT about those comparisons! Thanks Ed! Women in music will easily always be compared to one another, and really all music is like that. People want to name it, when they hear it. It’s just about communicating a feeling, when you compare. I do it!

You mentioned Howlin Wolf as a major influence. Can you talk about that. How were you introduced to his music?

Vinyl. That’s how I got into Howlin Wolf and a lot of my early influences come from my Daddio’s record collection. I really got into the blues when I was 16 [1996]. It didn’t matter that none of my friends ever thought twice about a turntable, I did.

My dad was always giving me shit for listening to everything on vinyl. He figures it’s a saving grace to record it on tape, the first listen. But I had a love for dropping that needle and listening to the crackles. Still do.

Yeah my dad would come home after a Saturday morning out record hunting, he’d open my door a hair (I was always still sleeping by noon, when he’d be arriving home with what gold he found), and he’d yell from the kitchen, so excited, “Kid! Listen to this!” And he’d be blasting the new records so I could hear.

Where do you play locally, in Ottawa? What’s that like?

I play EVERYWHERE in Ottawa. There are some really great legendary places to play in and around Ottawa. Each with a different vibe. Honestly, some gigs are just to keep my head above water. These are called “cover gigs” hahahHHA! But the original shows are special.

The Avant Garde Bar, a Russian, below ground level vodka bar, is a gentle force on it’s own. Zaphod’s has LOTS of history, lots of bands, always a great gig. Wakefield, on the Quebec side, but only a twenty-minute drive from downtown Ottawa, is one of my favorite places to play. An amazing vibe, wow.

The crowds in Ottawa are very used to being able to see live music every night of the week, so it can be a struggle to get ‘em out. But when they do it’s a trip. I have a great little fan base in Ottawa, not to mention a killer support system, I’ll always call that home.

You’re doing some stuff in the U.S. Can you tell me about all that?

Yes, as long as you don’t have any friends in the border guard hahHHAhHahhahAHHA! I’ve been coming out to Los Angeles for a couple years now, making my record with Dave Way. That’s shaping up! And it’s been a good run of gigs now everytime I’m here. And now I’m expanding a little… Nashville, Austin.. havin’ a ball tryin’ to do this thing, south of the [Canadian] border.

How did you meet up with Dave Way? Is this turning out to be something that might go somewhere? A CD perhaps? Fame, fortune?

A CD fer sure! And hopefully that goes somewhere! We met through a mutual friend, Andy Sturmer (Jellyfish) who I was going to make this record with. Dave had heard a couple tracks and said, “Yes! I’ll engineer it!” Eventually Andy got so busy, with his permission Dave and I started working together. It’s been a match made in heaven. I hope more people will hear what we’ve been cooking up, real soon. - Candybox magazine - Ed Verosky

"Tara Holloway Wins 'Em Over"

Tara Holloway has a hear-it-once voice. You get a taste of her nic-stained, plaintive vocal and you're hooked. She was the backing vocal on Ottawa songwriter SL Sheehan's single, The Truth, and blew away the listener in just a minor part. You might catch her playing the Rainbow Bistro or country pub shows and this year, you will see her at Bluesfest - a true feat, since most Ottawa acts need an album to be considered for the bill.

I should probably stop saying this, but I feel like somebody made a mistake, and I'm in," she says with a roaring, nervous laughter. It's a sound that punctuates her sentences and her potty-mouthed performances, which are full of tics, back-stories and false starts to break up the pace.

"I just want to build a fan base," she says. "The more people that hear me the better, I don't care who it is - industry or fan - that's my plan right now."

She hears often about her "realness," which sounds like a backhanded compliment, but she just might go with it. She's at the stage where she needs to gather the PR bumph and quips required to market her music on the Internet or to book tours, but she isn't the type to package herself.

"That poses a problem in a battle of the bands, where they want you to be overtly confident and work the crowd," she says, pausing. "I work it in my own way."

Holloway, 28, started playing music at 14, and started doing bar shows the next year. "When I was about 21, I pulled back and reorganized. I knew I wanted to do music, but I didn't know how. I got really lost for a while, then realized I wanted to do something huge, so I dreamed up all of my favourite ideas."

At the time, singing backup for Esthero or Hayden appealed (Esthero responded favourably) as did hitting up Nettwerk records (they offered her a demo deal). She declined both offers - either of which would have been a huge break. "I go by my gut and they weren't right at the time," she says, adding, "Yeah, I'm really weird."

Her quirks translate awesomely into songs. The Truth About Roadkill is sweetly optimistic. "I used to dream up this idea that it's not an accident, that they run out and commit suicide out of love." If only.

She is recording a debut album, slowly, between gigs, and laments the radio generation that's groomed on a clean sound. Growing up with her father's record collection, she's trained on the crackles of scratchy old vinyl - a perfect match to her voice. Tara Holloway plays the Roots Stage July 5.

article by: Fateema Sayani - the Ottawa Citizen


Sins to Coness (2012)

Little Ghosts (TBA - Fall 2014)



Tara Holloway's voice can stop you dead in your tracks. It's a towering instrument: raw and soulfully weathered, yet capable of precise runs and pitch-perfect delicacy. Her singing is at the centre of her new album, Little Ghosts, due out this fall through Light Organ Records.

"I'm obsessed with singing," the vocalist explains. "That's my favourite thing to do. I love songwriting and guitar playing, and I really enjoy being on stage, but it's the singing that got me into this."

Little Ghosts is the culmination of years of dedicated touring and creative growth. In the past decade, the Ottawa-based songwriter has spent time living in Lake Louise, Toronto, Vancouver and Los Angeles, with her guitar acting as her constant companion. Holloway's debut album, 2010's Sins to Confess, was pieced together from five years' worth of scattered studio sessions across the continent.

That album's diverse, bluesy sound caught the ear of Light Organ Records, and the label signed Holloway and reissued Sins to Confess in 2012.

Since then, Holloway has tamed her nomadic, road-warrior lifestyle, settling down in her original hometown of Ottawa while regularly traveling out of the city for condensed, focused touring and writing sessions with a cast of notable collaborators. "It was a steady onslaught of writing and creativity," she remembers of the time period. "I was able to be head-down focused for a year while making this record."

Holloway began working on the 13 songs that make up Little Ghosts during a week-long writing session spent in solitude in a cottage in the remote Quebec mountains. She continued to flesh out these ideas with her co-writers; she hunkered down in Vancouver with label-mate Kevvy Mental (Fake Shark - Real Zombie!) and Colin Janz (Carly Rae Jepsen), headed west to Victoria with Bill Farrant (Seven Year Old Poets, Weird Party), and traveled south to Nashville with frequent collaborators John and Sally Tiven.

Once the songs were ready, Holloway returned to Ottawa for studio sessions with producer Phillip Bova. Contributors included drummer Dony Wynn (Robert Palmer) and Juno-winning guitarist Kevin Breit (Norah Jones, the Stretch Orchestra).

"I wanted to find the common threads and the cohesion in my eclectic nature," Holloway explains. "The songs reflected a lot of different genres, so it was important to me that it all be recorded in the same place with the same drummer and the same mic setup. That brought it all together."

Holloway's diverse talents shine through on Little Ghosts, which is simultaneously tightly focused and sprawlingly diverse. Opening folk-noir ballad "This Life" begins the album with goose bump-raising crooning and lushly atmospheric production flourishes. "The Dance" emphasizes the record's unpredictable sonic character with its waltzing harpsichord tinkles, while "Off the Wagon (A Song for Sue Ellen)" is a raw and rustic blues number inspired by a character from the classic soap opera Dallas (a show that licensed a couple of Holloway's songs last season).

Elsewhere, "Red Light" culminates in heavy guitar distortion, "Matter of Attack" centres around a horn-spiked R&B groove, and closer "Hello to the End" puts a climactic exclamation mark on the album with its cinematic strings and pulse-racing piano coda.

After so many years of touring, sleeping on couches and living out of a suitcase, these fearlessly soulful songs represent the beginning of a new era for the well-traveled singer. With Little Ghosts, Tara Holloway has arrived.

Band Members