Monday, April 25, 2011

Hollie Cook: A UK Star On The Rise

Hollie Cook, daughter of British punk icon and Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook, is set to be a major star with the release of her forthcoming soul-tinged self-titled album on Mr. Bongo Records.

Cook's new album features production from Prince Fatty, a relatively new name on the UK reggae scene who nonetheless sounds like a seasoned vet and works with Jamaican greats Winston Francis, Dennis Alcapone, Little Roy, Horseman and others. Cook's nine song recording mixes rich and soulful vocals with dubby roots reggae production.

Songs like "Milk and Honey," "That Very Night" and "Used To Be" showcase Cook's silky, laid-back delivery while "Sugar Water" features a sweetly re-imagined version of Johnny Osbourne's "Love Is Universal" riddim, famously dubbed by Scientist on his album Scientist Wins The World Cup. Cook's ernest romantic strains on "Cry" recalls great UK lovers rock singers Janet Kaye, Carroll Thompson, or Louisa Mark.

Rather than imitating a Jamaican inflection Cook brings a distinctly British pop-soul aesthetic to her reggae songs. Hollie's diverse resume includes singing with all-female punk-dub group The Slits, whose charismatic singer Ari Up died unexpectedly in October 2010.

Other international soul singers have also been dabbling with traditional roots reggae of late. John Legend's cover of Prince Lincoln and the Royal Rasses "Humanity (Love The Way It Should Be)" is a strong highlight on Wake Up, his new album with The Roots. Meanwhile, American R&B vocalist Stephanie McKay recently teamed with Australian producer Katalyst for "Day Into Night," a song that features excellent vintage reggae samples (we think it's John Holt's "No Place Like Home"). Also, in 2008 Jazmine Sullivan sampled The Eternals "Queen of the Minstrels" for her smash "Need U Bad."

Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals may have famously sung in 1972 that "Reggae Got Soul," but it seems in 2011 soul "got" reggae, finally. Hollie Cook leads the way and her album is due in May on Mr. Bongo.