“It’s how I learned to play the guitar,” Holly Miranda says. “I was on a missions trip to Belarus when I was 14 and this girl brought a guitar and taught me “Linger” and “Zombie” by the Cranberries. I’d been playing piano since I was 6, but it wasn’t till then that I really started enjoying playing music. When I got home I started learning every song I could find the chords to online and taught myself that way.” And while the accomplished musician has released three albums of her own acclaimed music, her latest EP, Party Trick, harkens back to her first experiences playing music and showcases just how powerful cover songs can be.
“The title of this album comes from Tegan Quinn saying I could take any song and ‘make it sad’ she said it was my ‘Party Trick’” Miranda, who takes the opportunity on the EP to cover Morphine, Lhasa De Sela, Drake and others, says. “Some of these are covers are new, but others I’ve done throughout the years. It’s just what I do for fun. Doing covers is such a great way to learn the way someone else constructs a song, if you can break that down and find your own voice in it it can be something really interesting.” And whatever joy she takes in making the songs, listening to them is just as exciting.
Party Trick comes just a year after her return to the spotlight in 2015 with her sophomore self-titled release, co-produced by Miranda with Florent Barbier. Tracks like “Desert Call” and “Everlasting,” show off straightforward songwriting, soulful delivery and a lighters-in-the-air orchestration that places Miranda alongside the pantheon of songwriters who can make heartache sound beautiful.
“This is the most honest thing I’ve ever made; it’s very raw and is a contrast to what I’ve done in the past,” she says. After writing in Joshua Tree, she headed to Brooklyn, New York in the winter of 2012 to record most of the album, enlisting the help of bandmates Timmy Mislock, Maria Eisen and David Jack Daniels, while taking turns herself on piano, drums, guitar and bass. “There’s a Motown vibe to some of the songs,” she notes of the recordings. “I wanted it to feel like the band was playing the songs live. There’s also a few that are more electronic and ethereal,” like the song “Come On.” She recorded that track in Los Angeles with David Andrew Sitek, producer of her 2010 release The Magicians Private Library.
01. Hold On, We’re Going Home (Drake)
02. Blood Bank (Bon Iver)
03. In Spite Of Me (Morphine)
04. Forever Young (Alphaville)
05. Love Came Here (Lhasa De Sela)
06. Hundreds Of Sparrows (Sparklehorse)
06.04 – New York, NY @ Randall’s Island Park Governors Ball
06.08 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott
06.09 – Portsmouth, NH @ 3S Artspace
06.10 – Hudson, NY@ Club Helsinki
06.11 – Providence, RI @ Columbus Theatre
06.12 – Northampton, MA @ Parlor Room