Ian Drury’s claim that ‘There ain’t half been some ever b*st*rds’ may not be the most flattering way to introduce a few scribbles about Fabian Holland but hopefully you get the point.
There sometimes seems to be an almost limitless supply of talent, everyplace you go is some gifted and able musician performing their heart out, reaching for the stars. The incomparable Convent Club, a mere stones throw from home, is getting more than its fair share of them through their splendid doors.
Tonight, though, the impeccable sound system of the Chapel resounded to the uncommon talent that is Fabian Holland. An accomplished and remarkable guitarist he is blessed with a fine voice and songwriting ability and if that wasn’t enough he has admirable floppy hair…. gah damn the young and all their, erm, youth… Nurse, the screens please, I’m getting off the point.
Holland was accompanied by almost equally talented drummer who not only played with great sensitivity but can do a fine harmony and acts as driver/chauffeur as well. Fred Claridge (for it is he) also plays with the likes of Blair Dunlop and so is no stranger to the Convent.
Classically trained, brought up on blues by his Pa, a once-pupil of Eric Roche (with a beautiful rendition of Angel in the set), played electric in bands and now firmly in that alt folk song writer mould, Holland seems to have squeezed a fair few things into his tender years. Truth be told, and not surprisingly, you can find echoes of all these elements in his quite startling playing. The rare fluency, technique and passion is perhaps the first (if not only) thing that marks him out from the busy throng that is the folk scene.
But so too does his songwriting which stands up effortlessly with the songs of others that are woven throughout tonight’s 90 minute set. His songs are inspired by the personal and reflective – the geese he sees from his narrow boat, his Grandfathers old tobacco tin, the people who live around him in the river (It was slightly ironic that I found myself tweeting, albeit about him, as he sung Four Inch Screen about our inability to live much beyond our electronic devices…. Oh well). His songs naturally have the familiar construct of the traditional but with a modernity and currency, both in form and delivery, that ensure that they are no mere pastiche, not backward looking.
The Convent show was almost at the end of a short run of shows around the country, running up to the release by Rooksmere Records on April 27 of his new, second album, A Day Like Tomorrow. The new album is indeed a fine thing, already getting well deserved plaudits from none other than the Telegraph with a four star review.
Matt from the Convent said this was one of his most eagerly await gigs in the Chapel, and now I can see why. Holland, together with Betty and Bertha his guitars (oh, and Fred too), gave us an eve of remarkable music, played with a proficiency, skill and passion that would be hard to beat. A ‘clever b*st*rd’ if ever there was one…