Self-titled debut from Fabian Holland - classy finger picking, edgy charismatic vocals(August 17, 2013)
Some first albums fall into the ‘not bad, likely to improve’ category, others sparkle from the first, and with some you have to check that it’s a first - because it’s that assured. The self-titled debut from Fabian Holland is one of those. The first thing that strikes is the finger picking style, then the edgy charismatic vocals and finally, the depth of the songs - with six self-penned, two traditional and one cover. There isn’t exactly a surfeit of songs on the album but subscribe to the ‘leave them wanting more’ school of thought then that's no issue.
The veiled harshness and misplaced love of ‘The Landlord’s Daughter’ is a harrowing tale but Fabian’s voice adds to the message, and a hard message it is too. The unforgiving vein continues through ‘Little Boy Johnny’ – another soldier fighting for a cause he cannot understand. There’s also a fine take on ‘Hard Time Killing Floor Blues’ by American delta blues singer and guitarist, Skip James – think the man would approve. There’s an intimate edge to ‘Like Father like Son’ that without a trace of mawkishness, makes a heartfelt statement, while the traditional ‘Dr Price’ is delivered with a strong vein of humour, narrating the tale of the alleged, although slightly bonkers, pioneer of cremation.
The album comes with a minimum of production and adornment; you could call it sparse but it fits the songs. Fabian’s joined by Tim Harries (double bass) Guy Fletcher (fiddle) Simon Care (melodeon) and Will Pound (harmonica) and together they deliver a simple yet involving album. One observation, although the minimalist approach works, including the lyrics definitely wouldn’t go amiss.
Reviewer: Tim Carroll