A Sword of Holly

by Flora

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about

The debut record from Flora is the product of nearly three years of listening, writing, arranging, and recording. Inspired by classic albums from The Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, Talking Heads, and countless others, ‘A Sword of Holly’ offers a modern spin on timeless pop music, while addressing universal themes such as loneliness, anxiety, and overcoming deep fear. This cinematic full length project weaves a thematic narrative throughout and features performances by many of Chicago’s currently renowned jazz, rock, and pop musicians.

We invite you to dive into the world of Holly. From Flora with love.

credits

released November 5, 2019

A Sword of Holly Cast

Ryan O'Toole: Vocals, Piano, Wurlitzer
Max Miller: Piano, Wurlitzer
Jakob Allen: Bass Guitar, Percussion
David Lopez: Drums, Percussion
Connor Udvardy: Electric and Acoustic Guitar
Karolina Prus: Tenor Saxophone
John Cunningham: Tenor and Soprano Saxophone
Duncan Lee: Electric Guitar
Nora Barton: Cello
Thaddeus Tukes: Vibraphone
Kris Hansen: Trumpet
Andrea Meza, Courteney Castillo, Imani Williams, Sloane Crawford, Jakob Allen, Claire Albensoeder: Choir Vocals


Music written, arranged, and directed by Flora
Engineered and mixed by R. Andrew Humphrey
Mastered by Greg Obis at Chicago Mastering Service
Recorded at Decade Music Studios and Treehouse Records
Album artwork designed and illustrated by Lucy Gombas
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Track Name: Sleep
I find it hard to explain these days
How you get me, it's so easy
In my brain, whispering things
Falling into bed alone
We hold each other tight
To have you by my side
Reminding me to wake on time

And there are days
I still hope I never see you shine
But somehow, I still know
You will always be mine
Truthfully our parents know what it is to really be alone
They used to sleep the night
Without having to put up this fight

Won't you rest your mind
Pour a glass of wine
Waste a little time
Just a little time
Pass away the days
Act in my plays
Swim through my gaze
Melt in my maze

In the end this time shall pass and I'll have kids who laugh at this
But darling, think of all the time we missed
Just staring at our phones
All alone
Track Name: Run into the Rain
And so I
I'm able to admit
My main switch is self destructive
You know, baby, I can't help it
I'm sick, I'm hurt, and I am freaking out
Some may call it nervousness
But I call it my self doubt
What's worse, the ways I overthink before
You come knocking at my door
And I'm lying on the bathroom floor
Or the way you let me go tonight
But maybe now I'll know alright
That this love is a dying light

I run, I run into the rain
I run, I run into the rain
I run, I run into the rain
I run, I run into the rain

You know
I've forgotten what the feelings like
To stay with someone through the night
Like puzzle pieces fit just right
I make sense of all these reasons why
Why I could never fake a try
Too many shallow laughs and lies
But when autumn falls, I'll see it through
Look back on what we used to do
And hope I was wrong 'bout you
For now, these days go on in vain
But I'll tie my shoelace
Cuz up ahead it looks like rain

I run, I run into the rain
I run, I run into the rain
I run, I run into the rain
I run, I run into the rain
Track Name: California Blue
Let the water flow naturally
Here it runs down you and me
Here, the flies and the buzzards and fathers and mothers are not

Let the feelings be spiritual
Here the day performs miracles
Here, the lies and the stutters stuffed deep in cupboards can rot

I know you feel the wind when it lifts you
I know you know the end, it would gift you
But gifts are for people who need things from people, you'd rather be never that way

I know you feel the moon when it's real blue
Lonely Luna's crying who creeps through bedrooms
You stay up with people
They're in your mind, people
You'd rather not mention their names

Let your magic be pure and sweet
Here we always taste an apple treat
Here, the water can wash and a wash it sure will till I mop

Let vibrations be good and well
Here we show and we often tell
Here, the complex emotions confusing in motion can stop

I know you feel the wind when it lifts you
I know you know the end, it would gift you
But gifts are for people who need things from people, you'd rather be never that way

I know you feel the moon when it's real blue
Lonely Luna's crying who creeps through bedrooms
You stay up with people
They're in your mind, people
You'd rather not mention their names

Let your magic be pure and sweet
May you always taste an apple treat
Where the water, it wash and a wash it sure will till you mop

When vibrations are good and well
It's the easiest thing to tell
When the complex emotions confusing in motion can stop
Track Name: October Morning Flowers
Head to toe
You know me so
But we're below
Content to float
And it's heavy, you know
When it's in your lungs
These salty tongues
Squeeze me like a sponge
As I soak all I can
Got to save it all for when winter comes
And the ice, it numbs
These frozen thumbs
The sea, it won't breath, child
And neither will we from head to toe
I'd hold you so
If you'd let me know
How our flowers could grow intertwined in the snow
And that's not enough
I suppose, who knows

Deep in my October morning thoughts
And I know autumn won't be enough
Colorful leaves hanging by a thread
Gust of wind, backward spin in my head
We believe falling leaves on the trees
Have no say where they play in the breeze
I'd like to imagine that a soul
Is what allows us to have control

The weeks go fast and the days go slow
With each repeated routine flow
And now my views from a window
As all these morning flowers grow

(You could say I) I keep these flowers in my head
(You could say I) I count these hours in my bed
(You could say I) It's what I want to do instead
(You could say I) I keep these flowers in my head

Deep in my early April time rain
Still no words that can wash away pain
No one can say it, but damn it, we've changed
Seas apart for quite some time now
Now now now now
Really gave everything that I had
I loved fearlessly, I loved hard
And love don't make it any easier, no no
To separate your head and your heart

But springtime brings us life anew
And we'll do what we have to do
I know we'll bloom again some June
But until then, it's goodnight moon

(You could say I) I keep these flowers in my head
(You could say I) I count these hours in my bed
(You could say I) It's what I want to do instead
(You could say I) I keep these flowers in my head
Track Name: Sleep Away Holly
Hail
It's coming down hard now
Better find cover in the blankets and the sheets
Pale
The dark ain't kind now
Why do these shadows always follow me

Remember last night when I was dreaming
You gave me the time of day
You surprised me with your interest
You seduced me such a way
And I awoke in such confusion
I coulda sworn I felt your touch
But I romanticize illusions far too much
Far too much

Fail
The word flies through our ears
It lays a trail
A fire burns our eyes
Oh, is it hell or limbo
We don't even know it
We don't even know it
Let me sleep away Holly till the darkness goes away

Jail
The prison in your mind
This lonely cell
Time to flee away to another land
Call it hell or limbo
You don't even know it
You don't wanna blow it
You just sleep away Holly till the darkness goes away

Sail
You're moving with the wind now
And I don't know when I will see your face
Bail
You're leaving it behind now
I'm begging it'll do us good this way

Remember those times when it was different
When the sunshine and the rain
Fell together through the trees
And all the colors knew our names
You know I'm trying to keep you with me
But you're water in my hands
Falling through my fingers
Disappearing in the sand

Fail
The word flies through our ears
It lays a trail
A fire burns our eyes
Oh, is it hell or limbo
We don't even know it
We don't even know it
Let me sleep away Holly till the darkness goes away

Jail
The prison in your mind
This lonely cell
Time to flee away to another land
Call it hell or limbo
You don't even know it
You pray you don't blow it
You just sleep away Holly till the darkness goes away

Till the darkness goes away
Till the dark is gone
I just close my eyes and pray
Till the darkness goes away
Track Name: Holly Wonder
Holly knows the people in town
Happier times when she was around
Holly would light up the room, it's true
It's just something she could do
Holly knows the people in town
Lately, they haven't seen her around
I heard she's down
Fishing for golden crowns
Think we better send the clowns

I try to be a good friend and a lover
And I cry every time I think that I was
But I wasn't enough
And I lie, cause it keeps you at bay
Far far away from my heart
Oh baby

Holly's thinking bout some crazy things
Holly's having awfully sexy dreams
She's kissing a woman
Touching a woman
Loving on a woman
And she couldn't be happier, no no
Oh baby!
Oh yeah you, what you put me through!!

Holly has the magic in hand
Sneaking out late any time she can
She’s dancing with the fairies of land and sea in skies of berry green
But dreamings just for sleeping
There ain't no use in keeping hold of something if something's nothing
Well she's sick of nothing but asking for better days

I try to be a good friend and a lover
And I cry every time I think that I was
But I wasn't enough
And I'll die, but I damn sure won't let a man make a fool outta me
Oh baby

Holly dusts off her sword and shield
Travels by horse through crimson fields
Destined to find where monsters lay
She rides with the night
She couldn't be happier
Up a mountain, into a cave
Where the monster sleeps
And she softly creeps
And she sticks that sword right between his eyes
Screaming "glory be!! I'm me, I'm free, and I'm bad!"
Oh baby, I'm bad!
Dontcha know I'm bad, baby!!
And I won't ever let a man make a fool outta me again, no no no!

Holly's thinking bout some crazy things
Holly's having awfully sexy dreams
She's kissing a woman
Touching a woman
Loving on a woman
And she couldn't be happier, no no
Track Name: Clementine
She got a cloudy look about her, so she went on home
It's like we had her for a second and then she was gone
Clementine, I'll never tell you how many stars she's stolen from these eyes

She got a rainy day moving and for five weeks long
It's like the whole world was draining down a lavender song
Clementine, I'll never tell you how very hard she's holding lovely lies

She goes upside down for love
But the daylight calls her bluff
The girl is all tangled and tied up
And it's messing her up

She gets to singing sometimes in her room at dusk
It's romantic, the ways she ignores all the dust
Clementine, how can she make it eight more months without a phone call home

She gets to breathing real easy as she paints in the sand
Illuminated by Luna lighting over the land
Clementine, help me fake it, take my pants and dance with me lone, all lone

She goes upside down for love
But the daylight calls her bluff
The girl is all tangled and tied up
And the moonlights had enough

She goes right side up for love
Been real accustomed to this kinda stuff
The girl is all tangled and tied up
And it's messing me up

How dumb must I look
After all these years, after all these years
Clementine, I grow fonder of you still
How much gold they took
Wasted on those ears, wasted on those ears
Clementine, paint me naked if you will

How dumb must I look
Clementine, I'm free falling through my bed
How much gold they took
Clementine, keep these flowers in my head
Track Name: International Sad Girl
I don't know what I'm looking for
But I know that I'll be bored
When I get there
I don't care
It’s just the state of affairs
International sad girl

And I've been to England, Spain and to France
But I always knew in advance
There wasn't a home for me
As far as the eye could see
International sad girl

And as I think back to the past
I knew that it never would last
With far too much pretending
In watercolors blending

Watch as I lean over this bridge
If I become unhinged
I think I could do it
There's really nothing to it
International sad girl

And I know I just stole this
But I'm hopelessly hopeless
I hope so
For you
And I just don't know what to do
International sad girl
Track Name: Mountain Girls
I waited four years for someone
Who never showed up at all
I wasted away my time
And now I'm washed away
Glowing in the snow
Mountain boys and girls
And I won't talk to anyone of them
They all hurt the same
Oh, joyous days
I'm counting all the ways
I feel like I'm something else
The untouched book
Forgotten shelf
I want to be free
I want to feel what it's like to be touched and sought after
But I'm a natural disaster
And now I'm washed away

I've got a secret, it's mine
And it's been messing me up inside
I'm gonna keep it
I'm shy when it comes to laying it on the line
Maybe that's why I'm so fine wasting away all this precious time
We all have our secrets and Clementines
We all have those things that we choose to hide

Way deep in our minds
There's darkness to find
Way deep in our minds

I used to think I loved to be all by myself
But I just want that option
I don't function all that well here with myself

I've got a secret, it's mine
And it's been messing me up inside
I'm gonna keep it
I'm shy when it comes to laying it on the line
Maybe that's why I'm so fine wasting away all this precious time
We all have our secrets and Clementines
We all have those things that we choose to hide

You're there inside
What is it like
Being so beautiful
Passing the time
Loving the wine
Laughing for hours
Remaining beautiful
What if I was
There in the crowd
Would I stand out
Would I be beautiful
I just need you to say
You can't look away
I love the power
We all love the power

We all love the power
And if you say you don't love it, you're a liar
There's darkness in all of us
Burning and screaming for power!!

Memories holding onto my waist
Play with me, dancing in a sweet taste
Melody, harmony, spring days
Stay with me, tell me that we're ready
For a finer stage, flowers at our feet
Fine wine, we'll age, spinning down a rain soaked street in May
Funny how we're ruined by games we play

And who am I to say I'm any better than you
We're a couple saps, can't kick the blues
Just a couple saps, can't kick the blues
Just a couple saps, can't kick the blues
How dare I even say I’m any better than you!!
We're a couple saps, can't kick the blues
Just a couple saps, can't kick the blues
Just a couple saps, so blue

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