Gina Holsopple,
Gina Holsopple
(Ratu Kidul, 2001)

Gina Holsopple's self-titled album, with only eight songs, will appeal to those who like an uncluttered, almost impromptu approach to music. Her lyrics may on occasion be complex, but her clear and natural voice is not.

She apparently studied music and can play piano, bass, mandolin, violin and mountain dulcimer, but chooses to accompany herself with an acoustic guitar. The raw sound of the fret changes quickly began to sound as loud to my ears as her voice, and I wondered how professionally produced this CD was, to suffer such an aural imbalance. I must conclude that this is the sound she or her producer wished to achieve, but for me, it detracts greatly from the otherwise direct appeal of her singing. I'd rather the guitar took a marked reduction in volume, but doubtless others would disagree.

Gina's lyrics seem to be her personal take on life and the world around her -- sometimes punchy, sometimes poignant -- and her opening "Bodies: a Lesson in Control" is a battle-cry for all those females who "don't look like we say you should." It is spoken, and she only uses the guitar as percussion and a triumphant flourish at the conclusion, and the track has an original appeal. ("Mission #23," on her website, is in similar style, sparky little couplets usually rhyming and always on the point of running away with itself.)

I couldn't see any reference to Gina's age; she looks late teens in the photos, but with a degree under her belt must be older. When she sings, it's as if she's right next to you -- her voice is innocent, the songs recognise the problems present in this world. This is an interesting album, and if you like Suzanne Vega, Thea Gilmore or Tracy Chapman, try Gina Holsopple -- her voice is lighter, her style considerably less adorned, but they are the nearest comparisons I can suggest. Give her a try so you can make your own judgement.

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 12 April 2003

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