There’s a belief in the Japanese pottery practice of Kintsugi that the cracks in a piece of art reveal its story; that its breaking points create a map of the past.
For Auckland songwriter Holly Untitled (AKA Holly Lavery), it’s the broken pieces that make the best songs - her debut EP ‘Shattered and Scattered’ showcases an artist turning self-destruction into assurance, and fears into freedom.
The EP boasts six beautifully crafted songs that showcase the young singer-songwriter’s haunting vocal melodies atop sparse electronic soundscapes. Lyrically, Lavery steals inspiration from all corners of life, whether musing on her small town roots in ‘Leaving Home’, or waging inner wars in the cathartic ‘I Do It To Myself’.
Holly Untitled began life in 2013 when Lavery moved to Auckland. The following year she met producer Andrew Naysmith at performing arts school and they began making music together. More recently, Lavery has stepped out as a solo artist, armed with an accomplished body of work and a poetry that belies her years.
The songs that make up ‘Shattered and Scattered’ are an eclectic mix, seamlessly traversing genres and defying categories. There’s the delicate and powerful, ‘We Are Falling’ with its dreamy instrumentation and stirring vocals, the pop-tinged self-reflective ‘I Do It To Myself’, and the daring ’Leaving Home’, combining tinges of hip-hop and rock.
Lavery says lead single ‘Do It To Myself’ is about self-destruction and being your own worst enemy. “I think everyone kind of goes through that stage of self-doubt and anxiety.” Lavery explains, “But when you recognise the things that are wrong, your fears aren’t as powerful anymore. This EP is quite a lot about that. Owning your flaws helps to erode your fears.”
Naysmith produced all but one track on the EP, while Aaron Lee from the Australian electro-pop act Airports co-wrote and produced – new single ‘Leaving Home’, which is a bittersweet ode to Lavery’s experiences of growing up in Paeroa in the North Island.
“It’s about leaving behind the mind-set of what ‘home’ is. I grew up in a small town and there are a lot of things that limit you. This song is about moving away from home and on to bigger things. It’s almost an anthem for small-town kids.”
For Lavery, it’s both the looking back and the thrilling horizon that make the journey – and ‘Shattered and Scattered’ makes for the perfect roadmap.