Historically in music, folk artists have been slammed for turning their backs on the genre. James Holt’s debut EP in 2015, ‘In the Face of it All’, was a collection of brilliantly structured folk songs.
Holts’ new EP, released in April, is a bold statement by the young man from Bolton. ‘Sanguine on the Rocks’ is an eclectic record, and one that really impresses the listener with its several layers of excellent musicianship – a clever and confident yet experimental take on folk music.
The six track EP starts with ‘The Mirror’ where Holts’ instantly recognisable nasal vocal meanders all over this track. It’s an up tempo folk track for sure, but the presence of a brass section and a rock and roll guitar solo take it to the next level and after several listens, it remains one of the standout tracks on the record.
‘Sanguine on the Rocks,’ the title track of the record, is the biggest example of James Holt’s experimentation. The chorus is what you would expect from a singer songwriter, maybe, but it’s the verses where the madness occurs. A tempo change with a rapid drum beat reminiscent of Radiohead’s ’15 Step’ and the vocals are similar too – this comparison is thin however, as Holt has truly found his unique sound on this track.
The EP closes with the dramatic ‘The Lost Boy No More’, but not before two of the highlights of the record. ‘Contemplations’ has so many different components that fuse different types of genres, it simply should not work. Yet it does, emphatically. Easy listening beach music, rock and roll riffs, an OK Computer inspired verse and a Beatles inspired wacky bridge all come together in three minutes of sonic bliss.
‘And Then I Awoke’ is a ballad, though it still has that eerie experimental sound that peppers each track on this record. It is a testament to the artist that before his second EP, ballads are typically considered his strong point.
James Holt seems to have an inherent talent for song writing. He is brave enough to experiment with his sound too, and when it sounds as good as this, 2016 should be a huge year for the Bolton musician.
‘Sanguine On The Rocks’ is out on the 29th April.
This James Holt article was written by Paul Stimpson, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse.