Holley Maher is an artist. In her Nashville home, she surrounds herself with paintbrushes, self-authored and illustrated storybooks and novels, odd collections of instruments, and stacks of notebooks full of sketches, ideas, and songs in the making. Her vivid artistic vision bleeds into the studio and her songs, manifesting in beautifully textured vocal harmonies and sweeping melodies that seem to pull you in and carry you away.
For her third EP project entitled “Euphorics,” Holley teamed up with veteran Nashville-based producer Chris Grainger (Kopecky Family Band, Wilco, Sixpence None The Richer, Five Knives, Cold Stares, Switchfoot) and electro-pop singer/songwriter Kyle Andrews. The collaboration was a “creative rush,” as Maher calls it, resulting in a collection of upbeat songs with Holley’s familiar whimsical flair, but with a pulsating electro-pop undercurrent that makes not dancing nearly impossible.
In addition to being an independent musician and prolifically active songwriter, Holley also owns and operates a freelance graphic design boutique called H. Maher Creative. She is constantly on the move from the design studio to the recording studio, and in between, to the dance studio at The Nashville Ballet where she frequently takes classes. “I feel like it’s important to keep myself fresh,” she says. “If my songwriting feels forced, I go and dance. When I’m stuck on a design project, I write. One thing can inspire another sometimes, and it keeps me constantly evolving.”
The idea of artistic evolution is what inspired the change of tone for this new project. “I hope to never do the same thing twice. WIth ‘Euphorics,’ I really wanted to explore something new and take a step outside my comfort zone.” That she did. Listeners with sharp ears will hear things on this EP that they’ve never heard on a Holley Maher track before, including sounds from iPad apps like Animoog and SoundPrism, programmed drum beats that Kyle Andrews fans will find familiar, and even a highly-processed recording of the 1940′s Titano accordion named Florence, after the very distant relative who recently (and rather mysteriously) bequeathed it to Holley.
The EP itself is a bit of a musical journey, starting with the playful pop tracks “Gimme Your Love” and “Golden,” followed by a sweet and endearing tune called “Hiding Place,” an upbeat pop-rock duet featuring Jonathan Lister called “I Do,” and finishing grandly with an epic, dark ballad called “Whispered Words” which Holley says was her favorite track to record, despite it being the “black sheep of the family.” She claims that while making this album was “insanely fun,” it was also incredibly challenging. “I learned a lot about myself in the process. ‘Euphorics’ is a made up word that somehow attached itself to this project before we even began recording. I would define it as ‘the science of happiness,’ and I’ve learned a lot about being happy in the process. Sometimes you have to make your own happiness.”
“I didn’t even realize that being a songwriter was a ‘thing,’” she recalls. “I just thought that being a professional musician was somehow completely unattainable for someone like me.”
“Euphorics” has been released to digital markets on June 18th.