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First Play: Common Holly, Playing House

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Andrea Gin

Montreal indie-folk songwriter Brigitte Naggar, a.k.a. Common Holly, is ready to release her debut album this week, and it’s a fitting accompaniment to the darkening fall days.

Playing House sees Naggar explore themes of growing up and gathering control of one’s own life. As the title of the album suggests, the songs paint a portrait of a young woman looking back on her recent past.

Playing House is an expression of how I want to begin my adult life,” she explains via press release. “It is my first real effort to create something that is entirely deliberate — the beginning of my journey of thoughtful action, and of daring to express myself outside of my bedroom.”

The album is a gently meandering, introspective delight, showcasing Naggar’s soothing vocals with sparse guitar, interspersed with shimmering harmonies and layers of carefully textured production. It’s the sound of Naggar finding her voice.

“The creative process expresses my learning to take up more space and to put my silence behind me, while also dealing with the ending of a formative four-year relationship that had become the center of my young adult life.”

Highlights include the album’s opening song, “If After All,” which begins with a gentle staccato and builds into a swirling wall of sound, as well as the stunningly beautiful harmonies on “Nothing” and the sad, tender “Lullaby,” which features piano accompaniment from fellow Montreal artist Jean-Michel Blais.

In all, Naggar has carefully composed an album of beautiful simplicity. It’s a collection of songs that mark a haunting, intimate debut.

Playing House will be released on Oct. 27 via Solitaire Recordings. Pre-order it here.