Reviews Zone

Holly Lerski: Sweet Decline (Laundry Records) 26th April 2024



4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)



Reeling from a painful breakup in 2019, British Alt-Americana troubadour Holly Lerski embarked on a solo road trip across unknown territory, wandering America’s West Coast alone via train, bus, and car.

She carried a miniature guitar and began writing what would become her bittersweet and stirring fifth studio album, “Sweet Decline”. Recorded in Nashville with producer Matt “Truck” Roley, the album offers both a fierce reckoning with self-doubt and a map of healing from the snowballing repercussions of disconnection.

The sound is rooted in folk storytelling tradition and edited with a keen pop ear. It’s the music of coming back to life after going through ‘hell.’ 

 “Sweet Decline” is released on 26th April via the Laundry label. The 11 tracks open with the first single, “Chicago”, [see the video below] which began as a melancholic melody as Holly sat in Heathrow Airport, and developed over the Atlantic.

Holly formed indie folk band Angelou in 1996, inspired by musician Jeff Buckley—whose version of “Hallelujah” became the band’s first demo.

Signed to UK label Haven Records in 1997, Angelou’s 1998 debut “Automiracles” was produced by Calum MacColl. Second album “While You Were Sleeping” followed, before a deal with UK label Sanctuary Records for the third album, “Life is Beautiful”. Released under Lerski’s name, it earned airplay on BBC Radio 2, and prompted UK and European tours.

Holly disbanded Angelou in 2008 after a final solo gig at The Living Room in New York before taking a hiatus. In 2015 Lerski released her fourth album “The Wooden House”, named one of the best folk albums of 2015 by both The Sunday Telegraph and Independent on Sunday.

On “Sweet Decline”, Holly takes lead vocals, backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitar, ukulele, bass and piano across the album.

Ably accompanied by Matthew Roley on guitar, bass, piano and keyboards, electric dulcimer, percussion and backing vocals. Joshua Hunt on drums and percussion. Alex MacCollough on pedal steel, bass and guitar. Abby Dees. Kate Urmy and Scott Roley on backing vox. SistaStrings, Chauntee Ross and Monique Ross provide viola and cello. All songs penned by Holly, the record produced and mixed by Matthew Roley.

It is a pretty solid listen; an even listen across the whole thing – and a classy showcase of Holly’s vocal talents as a formidable artist. Also for Holly as an accomplished craftswoman on the song writing side of things.  No decline here, folks…



Words: Emma Ledwell



1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
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