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They could easily have spent their whole lives living worlds apart, but the chance encounter between the two songwriters of The Coo feels like it was always meant to be.
(read the extended story here in this blog post)
Matt Arthur and Jara Holdert’s journey started with a serendipitous meeting on a midsummer evening and has evolved into a deep musical and personal relationship bridging the North Sea. They write and sing songs together in two-part harmony about time, love, life, and the universe.
Matt Arthur, finding himself lost and unfulfilled at home, left Britain on a spontaneous trip to Amsterdam, alone, searching for a spiritual and musical break. He took himself to a local open mic event at Amsterdam’s café De Koe. That’s where Jara Holdert first noticed him, sitting at the other end of the bar. After they heard one another’s songs, they knew immediately that they were woven from the same artistic cloth. A conversation started over some jenevers and continued when they met up again the next evening and Jara showed Matt around the canals under a full Amsterdam moon. They talked about music and philosophy, life, and heartbreak. And then they had to part, way too soon.
Matt went back to London, and Jara stayed in Amsterdam. Too often, stories end there. And it would have been a beautiful story, even if it were only ever going to be a fleeting one. But when, a year later, Jara decided to pay Matt an impromptu visit, they discovered that their musical connection went far deeper than they’d realized. The moment they were in the same room again, something clicked. Something in the space between them – the space they had reduced from miles and miles to just meters – fell into place.
“The very first day, we went up to Matt’s studio in Tottenham and from the moment I picked up a guitar, we were playing, exploring, adding, and a song flowed out. It surprised both of us,” says Jara.
The next two years were spent writing songs over WhatsApp, meeting over FaceTime and visiting each other —- when they could afford it —- to play intimate acoustic shows together.
“We discovered that there was this kind of magic between us, musically.” says Matt. “We don’t ever need to discuss things too much. We could start and end songs on stage whenever we liked, or we could change melodies and arrangements and we knew that we would follow each other”.
Jara: “Our days together were always limited, so we never had much time to rehearse. But we discovered that it didn’t matter when we played impromptu concerts – we trusted each other musically, and because we took songs on stage right after we’d written something, the material stayed fresh and the performance adventurous. We both had experience with studio projects and band projects where tracks were perfected to a tee and rehearsed for hours, but that’s not what we were about. Our playing together felt more free, spontaneous, a breath of relief. We thought part of our magic was in that – and that the live-feel of our material is what we should try to capture if we’d ever record.
In April 2019, the time was ripe – the Coo was ready to capture their sound as it was created, as it evolved, and as it had always been heard —- in a live environment.
Matt Arthur – Guitar, Vocals
Jara Holdert – Guitar, Vocals
Words and Music by The Coo: Matt Arthur & Jara Holdert More info on:
Total time: 00:22:41
Bastiaan Kuijt (mp3 files)
Van der Hul
Horus, Merging Technologies
Jared Sacks, Tom Caulfield
Grimm LS1 speakers
Sonodore, Bruel & Kjaer 4006, Schoeps, AKG
DSD 512 Stereo files created by Tom Caulfield at the NativeDSD Mastering Lab using Jussi Laako's latest EC modulators from Signalyst
|Original Recording Format|
Jared Sacks, Jonas Sacks
Uilenburgersjoel, Amsterdam – the Netherlands
Pyramix, Merging Technologies
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||May 15, 2020|
“Rosie” was on one of the DSD 512 samplers from NativeDSD. When I heard it I knew I MUST have the full album with those crystal clear vocals and realism but couldn’t find it. Well here it is!
I have a slower internet connection but i’m sure the whole album will sound as good as “Rosie”.
This album is exactly why I have been considering NativeDSD an amazing place for real music. I wish to thank you, NativeDSD, for reaching out to Matt and Jara with a proposal for this album, because it is a way for both Matt and Jara to greet us with their lovely and AMAZING lyrics.
These two are so deeply connected that I believe in what Matt said about them being two music soul mates. Please pass on the message to Matt and Jara, that we need them and their music – what a lovely album and one that I deeply appreciate as these are some of the most amazing 22 musical minutes I have ever spent!
I wholeheartedly say: Thank you!
Caesar Live ‘N’ Loud
Amsterdam + London duo The Coo, consisting of Matt Arthur and Jara Holdert, have just shared their official debut single Low Country Girl, a wistful and romantic indie/folk-pop track that tells the story of their meeting.
Out now via Just Listen Records and Native DSD, Low Country Girl is taken from their forthcoming debut Amsterdam Moon EP and perfectly showcases how talented Matt and Jara are, by delivering a beautifully-written piece of music over an intimate production.
One can feel the honest and raw emotion of their storytelling which is highlighted by their smooth vocal delivery and lovely harmonies. I am really enjoying the stripped-down production of the song that allows their vocals to shine over intricate guitar melodies.
There’s something timeless about this song that I think many of you guys will enjoy and it’s just the whole intimate, warm atmosphere and honest songwriting that makes Low Country Girl such an endearing listening experience.
Folk Radio UK
The Coo’s journey started with a serendipitous meeting at an Amsterdam open mic, and has since evolved into a deep musical and personal relationship that bridges the North Sea. Matt Arthur from London (The Arthur Brothers) and Jara Holdert from Amsterdam (Lewin) write and sing songs together in two-part harmony, reminiscent of the warm late 60s and early 70s sound of artists such as Carole King & James Taylor; Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and contemporary artists such as Angus & Julia Stone and Big Thief. Like those aforementioned names, some artists just sound like they were made to work together and The Coo are no exception, their harmonies are a soothing balm for the chaos of today.
Where The Coo’s first single told the story of their meeting, ‘If Only’, the second track from their upcoming debut EP, is the first song they ever wrote together and represents the genesis of their musical collaboration. After their first serendipitous meeting in Amsterdam, contact faded for a year, as Matt went back to the UK. But a year later, when Jara decided to visit him spontaneously in London, they reconnected and wrote a song on their first afternoon. They performed ‘If Only’ that same evening at an open mic in Camden Town, marking their first-ever concert together.
‘If Only’ is a warm and harmonic story of the artistic journey through isolation and guilt and the yearning for release. With subtle musical shifts, The Coo’s second single is reminiscent of early Joni Mitchell with hints of Revolver era Beatles and Big Thief. Enjoy some well-earned respite and watch their video for second single ‘If Only’ below, recorded live at an old synagogue in the center of Amsterdam in April 2019.
Never underestimate the power of music to bring people together. The Coo are Matt Arthur and Jara Holdert, from London and Amsterdam respectively, and it was an all-too-brief meeting at an open mic night in the latter city that sparked a personal and musical connection between the duo. That was nearly four years ago, and since then, there have been countless visits, performances, and online songwriting sessions, culminating in this five-track debut EP.
‘Amsterdam Moon’ was recorded live about a year ago, amid an audience of friends and fans in an old Amsterdam synagogue. On ‘Low Country Girl’ – a tale of the night they met – they set the tone for the rest of the EP; a stripped-back arrangement of little more than acoustic guitars and wonderful two-part harmonies that would surely have folk greats like Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris nodding in approval.
‘Rosie’ is probably their best chance at a ‘hit’; a lively-paced number that boasts the kind of almost Beatles-esque melody and a harmony-laden chorus that linger long in the memory. That said, other tracks like ‘Something Turned’ and the closing ‘Baby Won’t You Please’ would lose something in a typical concert hall or theatre; these are songs that are both built on and thrive in a sense of intimacy, and the duo’s confessional lyrical style suits the music beautifully.
The decision to record live was to try to capture “the focus, vulnerability and delicate tension of an intimate performance.” In that respect, The Coo have certainly succeeded, and after hearing ‘Amsterdam Moon’, you’ll most likely wish you’d been in that synagogue with them.
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