FEATURE: Spotlight: James Holt




PHOTO CREDIT: Asupremeshot 

James Holt


THERE are some artists where it is easier…

 PHOTO CREDIT: Asupremeshot

letting the music do the talking rather than words! As I am charged with putting something on the page, I suppose I need to think quick! Actually, there is plenty to pen when it comes to James Holt. At a time when the music industry needs a bit more skip, step and sway…Holt is an artist who fits the bill. His latest single, Come Out to Play, is a slice of 1960s Pop and is another magical offering from the Manchester artist. Having gained kudos from stations like BBC Radio 6 Music – and D.J.s such as Chris Hawkins -, Holt is someone with a bright future. Before I continue on, how about some information from the man himself?

James Holt is a solo artist from Bolton and is receiving attention and praise from music industry giants, such as legendary producer Brian Eno, and the listening public alike. With the craftsmanship and energy of his song writing translating effortlessly to his stage performance, and having performed at the UK’s most prestigious venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, this is an artist to watch out for in 2019.

The 24-year-old – who was diagnosed with a bilateral hearing loss at the age of four – has overcome his disability to release a pulsating and raucous rock’n’roll track. Speaking candidly about the record’s inception, James explained:

“The inspiration came from a Sky Arts TV programme set in an alternate reality in which John Lennon walked out of the Beatles before their fame in the mid-60s. It’s a fusion of thoughts and ideas and also bears references to George Orwell‘s 1984. Some people say that it sounds very Dylan-esque in the verses (especially with the harmonica), but I think the Indian-fused Beatles’ Revolver creeps in the bridge.”

Music legend, Brian Eno – who has long championed James – invited the young luminary to meet him at his John Peel Lecture for BBC Radio 6 Music. The former Roxy Music keyboard player, record producer and revered ambient pioneer also chose James’s song to use as part of an arts festival last year.

James – who graduated with a BA Music 1st class honours and MA in Music Composition (distinction) provides lead vocals, backing vocals and plays all instruments on the track, highlighting his immense talent as a musician and his resilience in the face of adversity.

This feature is going to be fairly short, but I hope I can get people tuned into Holt and his music. He has overcome adversity and, for my money, he is one of the most interesting and promising artists around. I do think the North gets overlooked regarding music; it is wonderful such a strong and vibrant wave of artists are making their voices heard right now. I think my first taste of James Holt was back in 2016 when he released the E.P., Sanguine on the Rocks. I was hooked by the sheer vitality of the songs and Holt’s voice: this rare blend of cautious and emphatic. You get drawn in by a sense of intrigue and mystery but, just as you lean in, this blast of energy and fun comes out. Holt’s music perfectly mixes moods and emotions to create this harmonious blend.

Holt has been garnering some attention recently, and I think he is one of these artists you need to keep your eyes peeled out for in 2020. With a voice that has echoes of John Lennon (Holt is a big fan of The Beatles), it is hard to ignore the quality and authority. I do think the scene is more primed towards the political and serious right now. There are pockets of light and joy and, with James Holt out there, one can be guaranteed of rich songwriting, sunshine and bounce. That is not to suggest the songwriter dodges more emotive and deep subjects – his music is so varied and wide-ranging. In every song, you feel this rare power and conviction that makes every word hit the mark. His music rewards repeated listens. One can hear a song and find much to enjoy. The more you listen, the more that comes out; little notes and angles that you might not have caught the first time around. I have seen his music evolve and grow in confidence. There are a couple of big dates coming up so, if you get a chance to see James Holt play then do. I know the remainder of the year will be busy and Holt will be working on new material. He is embarking on his earliest steps now but, at a time when strong and vibrant songwriters like Sam Fender are coming from the North, I wouldn’t bet against Holt reaching the same status. There is a lot of anger and seriousness in music so, luckily, we have an artist like James Holt who can…

LIFT the spirits.


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