As a full-length work, Common Holly's Playing House feels satisfyingly complete.
On the opener and standout track "If After All," project mastermind Brigitte Naggar swears to "take this one day at a time," and promises there will be "no more demons (never ever)." The energetic, staccato rhythm of the song feels like a series of bullet points on a to-do list of promises to be fulfilled. By album closer "New Bed," things feel softer, and Naggar is seemingly at peace with the world that looked so daunting at the start of the album: "a steady beating in my heart, it keeps me ready," she sings.
In between these two tracks, we hear how Naggar reaches this peaceful state, as she examines her heart and mind across nine folksy, downcast tracks. There are playful and tender touches on the album, like the calming "Lullaby," featuring Jean-Michel Blais, and the title track, which is as sweet as a daydream. But elsewhere, Playing House is warped by melancholy and is cast in ominous shadows. "In My Heart" has a nightmarish, wonky doo-wop vibe that makes you feel like you're falling slo-mo into darkness, while the angry guitar in the latter half of "The Rose" is as sharp as the titular flower's thorns.
To play house is to make-believe, but Naggar isn't anything but herself on Playing House. As a result, the album is an inviting listen from a promising new voice. (Solitaire Recordings)