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Wednesday, 26th April 2017
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Fabian Holland - Fabian Holland

Fabian HollandThe first moments of The Landlord's Daughter, the opener on Fabian Holland's debut album make you sit up and take notice.  There's a flurry of guitar notes, reminiscent of Martin Simpson,  which should tell you, that when it comes to a six-string, this boy can play.

But this release isn't about being flash.  It's a thoughtfully crafted collection of songs delivered in understated fashion by an extraordinarily competent musician.  That's never more in evidence than on the second track, Hard Time Killing Floor Blues.  Skip James's lyrics seem fitting for Austerity Land.

Hard time's is here
And everywhere you go
Times are harder
Than they've ever been before

Most performers stick with the falsetto from the original and the hummed riff on the end of each verse, but the version here is more restrained with a subtle but persistent bass that draws you in.  Beautifully done.
 
The presentation throughout is intentionally sparse, concentrating on voice and guitar with the odd stint from Guy Fletcher, Simon Care and Will Pound on fiddle, melodeon and harmonica respectively, but there's still plenty of sonic interest.

Six of the nine tracks are self-penned and all show Holland as an adept story teller.   Two tracks, back to back toward the end demonstrate that best.   Charlie depicts an individual mocked for his ambitions, but who breaks free to realise them, while Mad Eric, a drunken mess of a man loses everything and faces a lonely life of homelessness and ridicule.

The album needs more than one listen to reveal it's qualities. There are no jump up and smack you in the face melodies here.  But the time spent getting to know it won't be wasted.

Fabian Holland grew up listening to his father's blues records, then studied under the late Eric Roche, before spending time in the Abruzzo region of Italy, honing his craft.  The result is a debut album of unusual refinement.  There is much to look forward to.

- Les Pilling

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