Review: Hollie Kenniff – We All Have Places That We Miss
National Music Reviews
We All Have Places That We Miss
Hollie Kenniff = Julianna Barwick – Amos Roddy + awe for the miracle of life
The first time I listened to We All Have Places That We Miss all the way through, I was putting a duvet cover back on, a knotty and involved process. As I fumbled, “Shifting Winds” opened the album. A guitar drizzles over itself, climbing slowly and echoing in harmony. Inside my silk cocoon, my hands moved in unfamiliar ways, struggling to tie awkward knots and push buttons through elastic bands. The song hit its middle point and swelled with choral voices, and through my dulled senses work became play.
Experiencing Hollie Kenniff’s 11-track album in this functional womb, I felt in sync with its hopeful ambiance in a way I couldn’t always achieve with further listens. We All Have Places That We Miss radiates sentimentality and wonder with a forward-moving determination, endlessly cheering itself on with tufts of baby bedding. This is the soundtrack for a sunrise that never ends, and I found it hard to consistently match that energy for the album’s 45-minute run. During some listens, Kenniff’s variations on this rising vigor felt fungible and childish. On other listens, Kenniff lulled me through reverie, and I was glad for the sense of indistinction. “Momentary” begins with an exciting and warm melody, and “Amidst the Tall Grass” begins slow and lonely. “Remembered Words” swells hard and slow while “This Division” swells hard and relatively fast. The flavors change, but the invigorating energy is ubiquitous.
This rousing quality makes We All Have Places That We Miss perfect to wake up to and terrible to work to. Its ambient nature can make it easy for the mind to wander and snap back tracks later—what felt astonishing one moment can feel infantilizing in the next conscious one, reaching for wonder with the weight of a drone-shot birthing video. It all works best if you either pay attention the whole time or never pay too much attention at all. It’s an album that made me feel in ways more than it made me feel, coating my thoughts in its new-age yearn before I eventually had to shake it off.
The first three tracks are the album’s most delicious pairing. “Salient” contrasts the verve of “Shifting Winds” with an uneasy piano, and it builds into surefooted droning from which “Eunoia (feat. Goldmund)” and its soft “oohs” and gentle piano clattering can then balm the brain. Past that point, I need a break, but come next morning I’ll be ready again. –Parker Scott Mortensen
Read more reviews of ambient and experimental works:
Review: OHMA – Between All Things
Local Review: Bly Wallentine – I Found My Foot
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