After establishing herself with a pair of gothic-tinged contemporary folk records over the past seven years, Holly Macve returns today with her first release since 2021’s Not the Girl. The five-track Time Is Forever EP, true to its name, makes that span of four years feel much longer than it really was as the Galway-born musician reinvents her sound to better match the downcast balladary of her all-American peer Lana Del Rey—who happens to be a fan of Macve’s work. “Ever since I heard Holly’s music I knew she had one of the most beautiful singing voices in the world,” Del Rey shared upon the release of the two musicians’ collaborative track “Suburban House,” featured on this collection. “Her flawless, emotional vocals have inspired me over the last six years and I love her songs and I’m especially proud of featuring on this one.”
There’s shades of Lana from the dreary opening chords of lead track “Beauty Queen,” while the following “Dreamer” feels like it could conceivably be a preview of Del Rey’s promised country album arriving later this year. As can be expected from a student of the hugely influential art-pop vocalist, the EP manages to transcend boundaries of time, sounding both uncovered from the latter half of the 20th century and predicting the direction music will take in the current one. “Time Is Forever is kind of the start of a new era for me,” Macve shares. “During the making of it I spent a lot of days and nights alone in strange cigarette-stained motels, dreaming big and overcoming certain inhibitions. I put a lot of my soul into these tunes and I’m super excited to share them and play them live.”
With the EP out today, you can stream the project and read Macve’s words on each track below.
1. “Beauty Queen”
“Beauty Queen” is a kind of diary entry and a letter to my younger self at the same time. It is about power and liberation as much as it is about the dark side of finding your way through life as a young woman.
For all the dreamers who get told their head is too high up in the clouds, this one’s for you. Most of the EP has a personal diary entry feel about it, but this song is maybe the most unedited. It’s definitely a stream of consciousness turned song. I wrote a bunch of words down in a slightly manic moment, then sat at the keys and put it to music. I’d been watching True Romance and had the Hans Zimmer soundtrack in my head. When I started the production, this is where it began, with the bells in the intro under the vocals. I’m not sure if that vibe carried through for the rest of the song, but I remember it being my starting point and source of inspiration.
3. “Suburban House” (feat. Lana Del Rey)
I sometimes feel my intuition wrote this song for me. I was temporarily living in a Suburban house from the ’50s, on the outskirts of West London. It was like a time capsule and hadn’t been changed since the ’70s. There was a beautiful old piano there, and one day I sat down and the song came to me unexpectedly all at once. The song made perfect sense to me only a week later.
A few months later I visited Lana whilst in LA and we shared new songs with each other. I played this to her live and that was the start of it becoming a duet. When I first heard her sing the second verse, it was like a dream—her voice was just so perfect for the song and heavenly sounding. It goes without saying that I’m a huge fan of hers. She’s an inspiration to me in many different ways, so when she DM’d me I was pretty shook, to say the least.
4. “Time Is Forever”
The writing process for this song was different for me. I usually just write on piano or guitar to begin with, but this one was atmosphere first and the song followed. Most of it was recorded in my bedroom studio setup, but it really came to life when I visited Valentine Studios in LA where Jay Bellerose added the most amazing drums. So lucky to have his beats on the EP.
Possibly the most hopeful song I have ever written. I’d just come back from a US tour and was feeling excited and at peace with love and the idea of the future for the first time in a long time. It was written on the same piano as “Suburban House” about six months prior, so little did I know the ship was about to be rocked. But I think I managed to encapsulate that content feeling into the song, and I just hope people will feel that when they listen.