James Hollingsworth is a singer-songwriter with real talent, something fresh and original to say, and a voice that can make you forget to breathe sometimes.
"This man is good. I mean very good. He has crystal clear vocals and guitar to match. It's like hearing Genesis .....I was transported back to student days........and only he has managed this live, in my view EVER!"
COMING HOME TO STAY is the latest full-length album from UK singer/songwriter/guitarist James Hollingsworth. Its 12 songs, with judicious backing vocals, extra guitar tracks and even atmospheric sound effects are laden with hooks, harmonicas, harmonies, hush and acoustic heaviness aplenty, delivered with James' characteristic passion and aplomb. More unusual tracks include the palindromic 'Bounty of Id', (also a mini-saga) of just under 2 minutes to the epic 12-minute 'Long Way Out', named after James' more minimalist 2003 album.
Quotes from people's initial reactions to the new album - released March 2007:
"Definitely in the same musical super-league as the great Nick Harper (and not many in that league)"
"Still listening to the album - I'm on track 11 now - it's brilliant. Powerful performances, distinctive songwriting, a prog rock sensibility paired down to the acoustic as Roy Harper would have it, and the perfect production. Brilliant."
"JAMES HOLLINGSWORTH of Bristol, UK is talented. That's an obvious statement and one that few would argue over. It's the degrees of the talent that might cause a few to squabble. Is he a better singer, than guitarist? Is he a better poet than musician? Who's his contemporary in the American scene?? (You know how we love comparisons.) In the end, we all know it doesn't matter, but we enjoy trying to dissect another's giftedness as if to 'discover' for ourselves a shortcut to their greatness. But even if we're successful at pinpointing what it is that we think makes them special, without their particular DNA, we can only hope for, at best, a substandard duplication, but hardly a flattering imitation, of their uniqueness.
"James Hollingsworth is UNIQUE and dare I go out on a limb, I don't think he has an equal, especially when you consider the sub total of what he does.., and how he does it. Yes, there's the obvious John Martyn reference that will undoubtedly arise when you listen to him in passing, but with the exception of them being fellow countrymen, the comparison is unfair, being more than a few generations apart, there's something decidedly more spiritual and mystical in James' writings. COMING HOME TO STAY is a journeyman's CD in that the songs represent many different stages of growth and musicianship as they span from 2001 to the present day. But the journey isn't necessarily his to travel along, but you're invited in a most intimate way to participate, from the opening lines of the first tune, Sooner or Later (2003) where he offers you the opportunity of common introspection:
When you look around the World
It's hard to imagine how things are gonna get better
Without feeling like an idealistic fool...
"I don't wish to divulge my point of view on the remaining 11 tunes as what I truly feel and learned about myself as I listened is quite personal and I suspect you'll feel the same, if you give the full CD a full and complete listen. I can only implore you to take the journey with James through his poignant songbook in this latest release and then let him know personally how he's touched your soul, as he undoubtedly will. Musically, lyrically and vocally, it's stunning and thought-provoking and just sits well in your spirit as you listen..."
"....and then there was James Hollingsworth...
- well by the time he'd finished I had 2 pages of notes and adrenalin coming out of my pores. I was itching to get his album once he'd finished - and i'm listening to it as I write this. It's bloody brilliant.
- live he started quite subdued....did a couple of mellow songs , in a mellow stance, and a mellow tone to his voice...then he sang possible the sweetest version of "Happy Birthday" i've ever heard - for Rach.
Then he hit the stratosphere.
I'll throw some names out that I thought of while I listened - Cat Stevens, Ian Anderson, Roy Harper, Geddy Lee...there was loads going on....and he was just passing through LOL
"You're not the only one" was the first song he did when he really went for it - and it was beautiful - fantastic song.
Then he did a song which he introduced by saying "this is a song about living on the same planet..we've got a long way to go" - perfect introduction. The song starts with the line "if you look around the world its hard to imagine how things are gonna get better" - the song is "Sooner or Later" and the CD version is just as good as it was live. Powerful stuff.
Then he completely blew me away. Not sure what the song is called....(if you're reading this James, i'd love to know) It was incredible - he got himself into it by playing this strident riff, staring at the audience and swaying to the song's rhythm - the song was being built up to this huge rock beast right from the start....then he started singing - in a way he hadn't up to this point - and it was amazing - huge delivery - fast, staccato, biting lines punctuated with this fast, big, riffing guitar. It had a kind of "Ritchie Havens 'Freedom'" rhythm, if you know Woodstock - but it had a powerful sense of urgency. It was breathtaking. The last line (sang really quick) "thank you please just to leave me aloooooooone" - it was HUGE! lol - brilliant.
- then he had to follow it! LOL
A beautiful song called "Walk the Earth" which had me singing along in my chair (I was disappointed it wasn't on the album....but it's a good excuse to buy his others LOL) - a great song that reminded me of Steve Knightley. Nice percussive slapping on the guitar on this one.
He was a really nice bloke too - afterward me and Andy Brown were chatting to him - and Andy asked him to write something ridiculous on his inlay booklet (I won't say what it was but it's not something you'd expect someone to write) - and he did LOL - great stuff.
Still listening to the album - i'm on track 11 now - it's brilliant. Powerful performances, distinctive songwriting, a prog rock sensibility paired down to the acoustic as Roy Harper would have it, and the perfect production. Brilliant. So pleased I have the CD.
Shame Ritchie Leo missed it, he would have loved him..."