With Sex Pistols and one-time Slits drummer Paul Cook for a father, it comes as quite a surprise that West London vocalist Hollie Cook's self-titled debut album completely abandons her punk past in favor of an old-school reggae vibe, self-described as "tropical pop". Produced by Prince Fatty and featuring the likes of Dennis Bovell, and Omar & the Pioneers ' George Dekker, its ten tracks certainly come equipped with a pretty authentic pedigree but luckily, Cook's musical upbringing ensures that she's never overshadowed by the impressive roll call of guest musicians. Blessed with an enchantingly sweet voice which sits somewhere between the laissez faire attitude of Lily Allen and the softly spoken, melancholic tones of Morcheeba's Skye, particularly on the trip-hop-tinged cover of Rachel Sweet's "It's So Different Here," her laid-back delivery effortlessly recalls the lover's rock of Janet Kay and Phyllis Dillon which inspired the change in direction. But while the optimistic rendition of the Shangri-Las' "Walking in the Sand," which layers the doo wop classic with baritone brass hooks and roots reggae riddims, and the dreamy ska-pop of "Milk and Honey," a collaboration with Prince Fatty which previously appeared on Grey's Anatomy, are the perfect foil for Cook, the original material is just a little too repetitive to provide the same spark. Indeed, only the slightly psychedelic "Shadow Kissing" and the echo-laden dub of "Sugar Water (Look at My Face)" deviate from the album's formula of Hammond organs, brass riffs, and skank guitars, which makes it hard to distinguish between the likes of "That Very Night," "Cry," and "Used to Be." But despite its samey nature, Hollie Cook still heralds the arrival of a hugely promising reggae talent, who should have no problem in outlasting the short-lived '70s career of her father's iconic band. ~ Jon O'Brien
The Wire (p.59) - "Hollie Cook's debut album is bathed in that warm, rounded reggae-lite sound on the pop side of 1980s Lovers Rock, perfectly suited for the singer's voice..."
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