Secretly Store Secretly Society Sign In 0 (0)
Lonnie Holley

Oh Me Oh My

Release Date: 2023-03-10
Catalog No: JAG437
Label: Jagjaguwar

Some years ago, there was a magazine piece wherein the writer meditated on the concept of the “Cosmic Southerner”: the late Pharoah Sanders, André 3000 and Col. Bruce Hampton (on whom the piece was ultimately focused) were all mentioned. Somehow, Alabama-born, Atlanta-based self-taught artist Lonnie Holley was left out of the piece. But Holley, 72, has improvised — nay, conjured! — ecstatic, baffling and heavy moments that can often only be described as “cosmic.” In a mere two lines of a song, Holley can zoom in on the pores of one’s skin and pull back to encompass the whole of the Milky Way.

All that said, Holley’s music and visual art (for which he has shown at The Met, The Smithsonian and is represented by the illustrious Blum & Poe) is much more about our place in the cosmos than the cosmos itself. It’s about how we overcome adversity and tremendous pain; about how we develop and maintain an affection for our fellow travelers; about how we stop wishing for some “beyond” and start caring for the one rock we have. Holley has never delivered this message as clear, as concise and as exhilaratingly as he does on his new album ‘Oh Me Oh My.’

‘Oh Me Oh My’ is both elegant and ferocious, sharpening the work contained on his 2018 Jagjaguwar debut ‘MITH’. It is stirring in one moment and a balm the next. It details histories both global and personal. Holley’s harrowing youth and young manhood in the Jim Crow South are well-told at this point — his sale into a different home as a child for just a bottle of whiskey; his abuse at the infamous Mount Meigs correctional facility for boys; the destruction of his art environment by the Birmingham airport expansion. But, as mentioned, Holley’s music is less a performance of pain endured and more a display of perseverance, of relentless hope, of Thumbs Up For Mother Universe. Intricately and lovingly produced by LA’s Jacknife Lee (The Cure, REM, Modest Mouse), ‘Oh Me Oh My’ features both kinetic, shortwave funk that calls to mind Brian Eno’s ‘My Life in the Bush of Ghosts’ and the deep space satellite sounds of Eno’s ambient works. There are also elements of Laurie Anderson’s meditations, elements of Gil Scott-Heron’s profound longform soul, elements of John Lurie’s grabbag jazz, and yes, elements of Sun Ra’s bold afrofuturism. But ‘Oh Me Oh My’ is a triumphant sonic achievement of its own.

Acclaimed collaborators like Michael Stipe (“Oh Me, Oh My”), Sharon Van Etten (“None of Us Will Have But a Little While”), Moor Mother (“I Am Part of the Wonder,” “Earth Will Be There”), Justin Vernon of Bon Iver (“Kindness Will Follow Your Tears”) and Rokia Koné (“If We Get Lost They Will Find Us”) serve as choirs of angels and co-pilots, giving Lonnie’s message flight, and reaffirming him as a galvanizing, iconoclastic force across the music community.

Holley reflects, “My art and my music are always closely tied to what is happening around me, and the last few years have given me a lot to thoughtsmith about. When I listen back to these songs I can feel the times we were living through. I’m deeply appreciative of the collaborators, especially Jacknife, who helped the songs take shape and really inspired me to dig deeper within myself.”

‘Oh Me Oh My’ is also an achievement in the refinement of Holley’s impressionistic, stream-of-consciousness lyrics. During each session, Holley and Lee would discuss the essence of the songs and distill Holley’s words to their most immediate center. On the title track, which deals with mutual human understanding, Holley is as profound as ever in far fewer phrases: “The deeper we go, the more chances there are, for us to understand the oh-me’s and understand the oh-my’s.”
read more

Standard formats

Sold Out
(Clear Blue Vinyl)
(Black Vinyl LP)
Back to Top