Hollie feels the fear

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After a decade of bewitching us all with award-winning music, Hollie Smith still felt the fear recording her third solo album.

Water Or Gold was a struggle, says Smith, who plays an intimate gig at The Sherwood this coming Wednesday.

It saw her take on a more disconnected recording process, laying down different elements in different studios and at home.

“It was terrifying,” she says.

“Normally I work in a studio where it’s basically a live environment and I create the sound I want to hear on the finished product.

“I’m generally sitting with that sound for a lot longer but with this process I knew what I wanted to hear but didn’t have it at that stage until I went to New York.”

Producer-engineer Aaron Nevezie, a Kiwi who’s been Stateside for 20 years working with the likes of the Black Keys, mixed the tracks at his Bunker Studios in Brooklyn over 10 days.

Smith: “I had been pretty sure it was going to be a complete fail of an album.

“I almost had it, but it wasn’t quite there. But luckily I did manage to execute the recording properly, get to the mix and everything came together.

“At that point it was really exciting because I didn’t think we were going to make it — but then it was, ‘OK, we’re good, we’re here’.”

The album sees Smith remain true to her jazz soul sound but with a nod towards rock and blues.

It hit number one in the charts for three weeks and earned Smith nominations for Best Album and Best Female Artist at the New Zealand Music Awards.

“We were blown away with the response, the reviews, and the initial sales, couldn’t have asked for much better really,” she says.

She’ll play tracks from the album with acclaimed bassist Marika Hodgson at The Sherwood.

“It’s not really an acoustic show; it’s plugged in, but a quieter duo show.

“It’s a little bit more intimate — there’s just the two of us so there’s only so rowdy we can get.” — PAUL TAYLOR/LOUISE SCOTT

Hollie Smith plays The Sherwood, Wednesday, $30