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Steady Holiday – Newfound Oxygen Review

Lush pop-rock meets existential crisis that anyone over 30 can relate to.

What does Steady Holiday sound like?

Classic dream pop-rock with a slice of 60’s hippie soul.

The review of Steady Holiday – Newfound Oxygen

“It’s a seven out of ten – this bomb shelter comatose I’m in – but it’s not living.” There is so much to unpack in the opening tracks chorus and Steady Holiday spends the next half hour doing just that. In her follow-up to the fantastic ‘Take the Corners Gently‘, we explore how to keep the order and chaos of life somewhat balanced. This is a classic pop-rock album full and Steady Holiday does her best Bic Runga.

Following the adult pop-rock sentiment of other artists like Sarah Blasko and Bic Runga, we have an electric piano, thick retro bass, crystal clear guitars and a lot of classic pop chorus oohs. The album has a beautiful 60’s shoop to it, like the veneer of the American dream in full colour. Yet when you listen to the lyrics and understand the undertone, you can hear the existential crisis and rot has set in and this happy, breezy world is drowning inside. ‘Bomb Shelter Comatose’ opens with the line mentioned and you can almost hear Steady Holiday gazing out the window, waiting for a kettle to boil. The strings and keyboards have a daze to them and this continues into ‘Asleep’. ‘Asleep’ is a devastatingly dreamy ballad of guitar, string and voice as Dre Babinski (Steady Holiday) stays she’s sleepwalked into her 30s and isn’t happy about it.

photo of Steady Holiday
Steady Holiday

Between the two songs is the uptempo number ‘The Balance’ which aside from having a very catchy chorus, will give the listener a different perception of it as you play the album. Taken alone, it sounds like a mantra of trying to get the balance of life right. It’s almost reassuring at points. However, the more of the album I listen to, the more I feel like the song is lying to itself. The album is full of big questions and yet early on we get this knowing satisfaction of getting life right. It doesn’t feel earned as song two on the album. Song nine maybe, but not the second track. Maybe this says more about my cynical world view but it is a fascinating comment on album track listings really changing a song’s tone and message.

Key to my thoughts on this is the track ‘High Alert’ – the big rock centrepiece. This track speaks of always being on high alert for problems and the song transitions into a huge electric rock number. Big guitars, big chords, big vocals – the whole album hits high alert. Steady Holiday’s biggest gift on this album is how the music viscerally narrates the themes of the album and this is a great example. Another is ‘Can’t Find A Way’ which has a soulful piano tripping down notes as Dre sings “I can’t find a way to fall in love with you”. The song is literally falling, even if she isn’t. Moving from dream pop to indie rock, the subdued misery of ‘All Weekend’ is a quiet slayer. The drab synths and tired drums work so well as Steady Holiday laments about the sun rising every day at the same time. We’ve all had that ‘”What is my life for?” moment and it feels totally relatable.

Moving into the closing third of the album, things do take a turn towards resolution. An open resolution, but one to ponder on nonetheless. ‘My Own Time’ is an angelic slice of dreamy electric piano, thick bass, voice and bird song. It’s retro hippie in the best way and is a blissful ode to relaxation and simplicity. ‘Under the Moon’ contains possibly my favourite lyric outside the opener. “This constant climb, to thrive, to outrun each other. How quickly we forget me and you.” The song outwardly rejects the consumerist pressures of modern-day life. Paired with a classic 60’s soulful rock with dramatic strings, warbling guitars and glistening electric piano – it’s timeless and classy. The album closes out with the playful ‘Newfound Oxygen’. It is the catchiest and most fun track on the album with breezy beats, airy vocals and rolling keys. The concept is that Dre is falling and isn’t sure if she’s going to land hard or not. The album’s final line is ‘I’m ready for a hard landing if it gets me home’ and I think that’s the truth nugget. Take the rough sometimes to get the smooth later.

Whilst less melodically in your face than her previous album, I really resonated thematically with ‘Newfound Oxygen’. The lyrics and overall message land with me, a 39-year-old who is increasingly finding myself uncomfortable in the world. I’m suspicious, previously burnt and now shy and squinting in concentration for every move I have to make since it’ll have endless ripple effects that no one cares about. This album wraps up what it’s like to feel gaslit daily in a world that leaves you spinning and out of control, whilst pragmatically concluding you win some, you lose some. Excellent.

Recommended track: Newfound Oxygen

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Steady Holiday - Newfound Oxygen



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