Hollie Cook ‘Twice’ (Mr Bongo) 4/5

Hollie-CookBeing the daughter of the Sex Pistols Paul Cook and Culture Club backing singer Jenni Cook and having Boy George as your godfather inevitably, perhaps, encourages you towards a career in the music industry and Hollie Cook has certainly paid her dues singing backing with post-punk/reggae band the Slits.

Although naturally a shy individual, she has gained in confidence from regular live performances and most notably supported the Stone Roses at their comeback concert. For her latest album and second as a leader for enterprising London label Mr Bongo following on from the excellent collaboration with Prince Fatty, the twenty-eight year old has enlisted heavyweight UK roots reggae and dub multi-instrumentalist Dennis Bovell to produce along with Jamaican veteran singer Winston Francis and George Dekker. Fans of Bovells’ classic 1970s albums will certainly find much to admire in the instrumentation which is in a strictly roots style, though with a definite nod towards pop in the vocals. The instantly catchy ’99’ is the album’s most compelling number and possesses a heavy roots feel with layered synths and syndrums that conjur up the late 1970s to perfection and even a Brazilian cuica drum for added exoticism. It should be stressed that the album is in large part a tribute to Ari Up, lead singer with the Slits, who tragically died in 2010 and was a close family friend. That personal loss is conveyed on the opener simply titled, ‘Ari Up, which is a mid-tempo roots number with percussive accompaniment. Overall the music oscillates between reggae in a roots vein and that aimed at a more commercial market and Hollie Cook probably will make her reputation in that in-between niche. This latest offering is a deliberate attempt at creating more of a roots sound and works pretty well within those parameters. In fact with Caribbean roots on her grandmother’s St. Lucian side, a pan-Caribbean flavour might make for an intriguing future project.

Tim Stenhouse