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Holly McNarland | Chin Up Buttercup

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Rock: Modern Rock Rock: Acoustic Moods: Solo Female Artist
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Chin Up Buttercup

by Holly McNarland

Unflinching lyrics, lingering melodies and a powerhouse voice, Holly has spent the past decade cataloguing her life with music.
Genre: Rock: Modern Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. So Cold
3:55 album only
2. Fly
3:30 album only
3. Da Da Da
3:32 album only
4. Sweet Lazy
4:13 album only
5. Every Single Time
2:41 album only
6. Dear Pain
3:16 album only
7. Dry As A Bone
4:24 album only
8. Bye Bye Boy
3:05 album only
9. Mermaid
3:49 album only
10. The Waltz
3:40 album only
11. Memory of A Man
3:42 album only
12. Sad Songs
4:44 album only


Album Notes
Since the release of her debut Sour Pie in 1995, Holly McNarland has released one critically acclaimed album after another. In unflinching lyrics, lingering melodies and a powerhouse voice, Holly has spent the past decade cataloguing her life with music.

Chin Up Buttercup is the singer-songwriter’s fifth record, a narrative that reflects on motherhood, loss and the everyday. Recorded in local Vancouver studios over the last two years, the album stems from Holly’s rocky relationship, a difficult break up, “and just plain living life,” she says. As always, the album showcases the singer songwriter’s inventive compositions and lyrical depth, as well as her trademark, razor sharp one-liners.

Much has happened since the Winnipeg-native with the commanding pipes put out EP independently. Following the success of Stuff, her Universal debut in 1997, Holly shipped out to Vancouver, where the birth of her son sparked a creative spell that would become her third album, Home Is Where My Feet Are.

In many ways, Chin Up Buttercup picks up where that record left off. From the sensual “Memory of A Man,” to the bubbly “Da Da Da,” written in part on her son’s kazoo, Chin Up Buttercup is beautifully eclectic, exuding the confidence of a songwriter in her creative prime. Haunting acoustic guitar melodies alternate with heavier riffs, Holly’s commanding vocals playing overtop it all, from her inimitable screams to the honeyed whispers. Much has been made of Holly’s walloping voice, specifically that it comes from such a small frame – she stands 5’4.” The singer shrugs it off: “I sound like my mom. My mom on speed.”

Chin Up Buttercup is a reference to the family car, a buttercup yellow Plymouth Fury she tooled around in Winnipeg. Buttercup is also the name of Robin Wright’s character in the cult classic A Princess Bride, a film her seven-year-old son Nege adores. And so both car and album were christened.

Holly’s inspiration for the album ran the gamut from Nege’s poetic observations, to concern about becoming a single mother, to disdain and finally a close friendship with an ex-husband.
“Part of writing is just it’s so therapeutic, and I know it’s been said a million times, but it is. For me, my close pal in any difficult situation is my guitar. I didn’t have to spend a bunch of money going to therapist. I just used my guitar. Not that I couldn’t use a couple of sessions on the chaise lounge.”

“So Cold,” the opening track, was inspired by a recent stint in Winnipeg, as well the impish marionette fans will recognize from “Elmo,” Holly’s single off Stuff. “The doll is kind of this eerie little thing. It had been in a box because we'd had our stuff stored for a couple of years. So I sort of wrote from the doll's perspective. That, and being in Winnipeg, being really isolated – that’s what it's about. I was singing it through the eyes of the doll, but I guess I was the doll.”
For “Dry As A Bone,” Holly took her inspiration from another singer’s experience of losing a parent.

“I heard on the radio that a famous singer’s Mom died and it just sort of made me feel sad for this person. I put myself in her shoes, how I’d feel about it. It was really hard to get through a take because I kept balling my eyes out.” Occasionally, Holly turned to old notes she’d written in scrapbooks and melodies recorded on her answering machine.

These days, Holly’s muses are often her children, Nege and newborn daughter Coco Belle.
“I could literally write song after song after song about my kids,” she gushes. “When you have kids, you write. It’s just inevitable – it’s everything they do. You’re just so absolutely in love with them. With my son Nege, I just watch him. One day we were walking and it was super windy, and Nege looked at me and asked, ‘Mom, why does the wind always want to play with us?’ And I was like, ‘That’s awesome!’ So that’s in “Fly:” The wind blows, it wants to play with us. I pilfer from him a lot. I get ideas constantly from his fresh little sponge of a mind.”

With family, music and no cable, life in Vancouver is sweet for Holly. She sees Chin Up Buttercup as the project that got her from “point A to point B in her life” – a journey that will leave her fans much rewarded.

“This was, by far, the most fun, most creative, hands-on record I’ve ever done.
I really think that being so involved in the recording, and working with great people, along with having a clear picture of what I wanted, comes through in the music …When I’m 60 I think I’ll be able to listen to this album and smile.”



to write a review


Amazing CD! Just as good as her last two, if not better!


I love this album, it\'s amazing, just like her other ones. I listen to it all the time, every song is fantastic. I love everything she\'s done so far and I can\'t wait to hear more.