Within moments into ‘Unholy’, you can tell Collard has created something momentous. The record feels like being thrown back in time – unable to pinpoint exactly where yet remaining distinctly modern – while the range and control in the soul singer’s vocals point to a unique and special talent.
Almost immediately, the hair-raising falsetto of ‘Hell Song’ hits with spine-tingling results, and funk-infused guitars glide into ‘Greyhound’, an old-school soulful number reminiscent of James Brown. The affecting ‘Murder Murder’ builds slowly into rapturous, rock riffs and carries seamlessly through to the birdsong of the blissfully tender and spiritual ‘Warrior Cry’.
‘Sacrament’ is a brief yet poetic monologue, blending prose and sultry saxophones with gospel, causing pause and contemplation, if only for a second. Then just as you feel lulled and coddled by the sultry sounds, ‘Ground Control’ wakes things up with slight, yet biting aggression. Kojey Radical’s darkened, punchy bars contrast against Collard’s unguarded vocals, which when combined with the deep and crawling bass, elicit a sense of danger and urgency.
‘Merciless’ pulls the record back down to earth with its raw intentions and stirring instrumentals, while the heart-breaking and impassioned ‘Vultures’ imparts the kind of warm sadness felt when reminiscing on once happy memories. The album closes with the eerily divine ‘Blood Red’ – a strangely alluring piece, climaxing with an explosive, rock-inflected encore that gently fades into the abyss as ‘Unholy’ comes to an end.
Collard’s ‘Unholy’ possesses an intense vulnerability met with immense strength, both moving and captivating. It’s a genre-defying and timeless journey, transfixing listeners in a singular moment, allowing them to feel whatever they need in that instant; a confessional and explorative piece on love, honour and past decisions that cuts to the core.
The complexity of sound throughout this record is refreshing and vital too, its production beautiful and crisp – you can feel every note and sound, from the Hendrix-esque guitars, funk organs and smooth-talking sax, to the eloquently refined rap interludes and heartfelt lyrics. All these elements dovetail to create an intimately immersive listening experience, which is deeply emotional and profound.
‘Unholy’ is best served with a whiskey and played through headphones, eyes shut and reclined, floating adrift into the unknown.
Words: Yasmin Cowan
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