There will no doubt come a time when great philosophers will question whether happiness itself is just a dream and they will, with the arrogance so beloved of academia, claim an album like “Holding On” by Sally Dige as proof that life is simply darkness and never light.
It is certainly true that a bleakness of spirit pervades “Holding On” but there is more than the simple search for forgiveness and consequent redemption going on here with something akin to retro witchcraft being used to cast a spell upon the ears of the casual listener and that very spell turns this album from something that could easily have been a nose dive into the abyss of desperation into something that could be truthfully be called spiritual in the context of today.
If you want to talk in musical analysis terms then the story unfolds like this. The analogue synth sounds and the ever emotionally distant drum machine combine synergistically with reverb enveloped vocal harmonies to conjure up the ghost of the dancefloor, as in “I Can’t Be”, as easily as “Be Gone” evokes the pain that comes with the separation of self. That sound pretentious but it isn’t really as, unlike so many worshippers of the laptop, Sally Dige remembers that she must connect with the listener to get her message across.
So, can I actually generate enthusiasm for the message that Sally Dige sends within her music? This album isn’t, after all, a downbeat parallel to the increasingly popular and icily cool Nordic electro pop but more the forgotten child of the New York basement electro pioneers where the isolation of modern times is illustrated with layers of glacially chilled sequenced beats and a human voice trapped within the body of some rogue android transported back from the future into a world that will never understand it. Put it like that and, again in the context of today, that makes “Holding On” an album of our times. Yes it is.