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Fabian Holland - Fabian Holland (Rooksmere Records)

Star rating: 
4

My first encounter with young London-based singer/songwriter Fabian Holland was way back in October 2010 when he gave up some of his time to appear on the bill at one of the Folk Delivering Hope concerts up in South Yorkshire. His performance at that concert clearly marked him out as a promising new talent whose star was most definitely on the rise. All he needed was a good producer, some generous studio time, one or two additional songs and a temporary break from his comfort zone whilst one or two publicity shots were taken. Then it would be full steam ahead and the launch of his solo recording career would commence in earnest, a career that would potentially mirror his engaging live performances. Fast forward two and a half years to April 2013 and our paths crossed once again, when we both found ourselves in the company of mutual friends during a weekend spent on a working sheep farm in County Durham, where I was pleased to share a few songs with him during the evening and observe him putting the finishing touches to some new songs in the morning, ready to take along to the studio shortly afterwards.

Rooksmere Records had the foresight to take up the baton and run with it, as they had done previously with Dan Walsh, Will Pound and Blair Dunlop, all of whom are now very much in the folk and acoustic consciousness. Fabian Holland has lived and breathed his music over the last few years; from London and Bristol to the Abruzzo Region of Italy, where he spent some considerable time developing his unique style. Busking was one aspect of his development, playing to small gatherings in bars and coffee houses was another, all the while honing his craft, whilst writing a handful of sensitive songs to complement his extraordinary playing. In his repertoire there are the blues influences of Bob Brozman, Kelly Joe Phelps and most notably Skip James on Hard Time Killing Floor Blues, which interweaves effortlessly with the British folk sensibility of such as Banks of the Dee.
 
The album's strongest feature though is Fabian's own song writing, the delivery of those songs in particular and the extraordinary relationship this musician has with his guitar. There's almost a sense, when observing a Fabian Holland performance, that you are eavesdropping on something confidential, almost clandestine, off the record. Rarely do you see such a deep relationship between a musician and his instrument. The Landlord's Daughter, Like Father Like Son and Home each demonstrate the intimacy and sensitivity of Fabian's craft.
 
Produced by Mark Hutchinson, the eponymous album  has contributions from Tim Harries on double bass, Guy Fletcher on fiddle, Simon Care on melodeon and Will Pound on harmonica, each musician clearly chosen for their empathetic playing. I had a feeling about this musician three years ago and if anything that feeling has only grown stronger. Enjoy.             
 
Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky