Bisexual Tara Holloway gives a gutsy debut with ‘Sins to Confess,’ but misfires along the way
2 out of 5 Stars
SINS TO CONFESS
The songs on Tara Holloway’s first release, Sins to Confess, have the confidence of a seasoned artist with lyrics that are borderline silly — the kind a veteran could get away with but still be considered brilliant.
But her songs are cockier than her pedigree. Holloway’s debut doesn’t introduce the listener to a breaking artist. Instead, it expects you to know her, shake her hand and create a holiday for her. Her overconfidence is her biggest enemy.
Sins opens with the groovy "East Side Story," where Holloway does her best Joan Osborne impression when her gritty voice takes over. The song’s upbeat tempo calls to mind Sheryl Crow’s "All I Wanna Do" with a similar narrative. The problem, though, is that the lyrics flow horribly and the song is a messy blur about two girls, a pimp and the city. Holloway laughs through the song as if we were already in on the joke. She punctuates the song one time with the word "fucking" so intently, that we’re supposed to know she’s a badass. Instead, it’s just annoying.
"Boyfriend" follows up better. Holloway is out as bi and she wonderfully embraces her lesbian side. A girl’s night out has major subtext against the sexy sway of the beat. But her construction is off-kilter. Unlike "East Side Story," the chorus is prevalent but choppy. If you don’t then I won’t / If you don’t tell your boyfriend… you’re gay is uneven in its delivery but has a refreshing bluntness. The song is far from perfect but addictive — each time it unfolds, a new subtle element appears despite a lazy ending.
Sins is a short album (just eight songs) with the first half erratic in its delivery. Holloway calms down more on the backside. "In the Flesh" is dreamier than "Boyfriend" and we get a better glimpse of Holloway’s vocal range. Her rasp works best in the bluesy ballad. She goes honkytonk with "This Time Fer Sure," a sound that better suits her. These are the album’s standouts and feel more genuine than in-your-face.
The biggest misfires are "Facebook" and "Misnomer." With lyrics like, I’m not on your Facebook anymore / You seem to have some problem with the score, she doesn’t quite relate the social network to the rest of the song. The line sounds like she was trying to rhyme "whore" in the following line, and she does. Although she slightly redeems herself with the line, Instead of talking out your ass, you can talk to me. In "Misnomer," Holloway slurs and giggles her way through the song with such bothersome attitude, it comes off more like she hit the recording studio after a very good happy hour.
Holloway shouldn’t refrain from letting it all out but her lack of humility flavors this album with a sour taste. Her laughing throughout the album never makes sense but does make Sins sound overly cocky. The songwriting has potential and her blunt sexuality is galvanizing, but if she’s going to continue her aggressive tone, she should have more to back it up with.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 9, 2010.