James Hollingsworth,
Alive in 2005
(independent, 2006)

James Hollingsworth is a singer/songwriter/guitarist/harmonica player from England who has released many albums over the years. His vocals are very reminiscent of the band Marillion. His CD Alive in 2005 was recorded in June 2005 at Marek's Dome, Noxon, Forest of Dean. James is not only very talented on the mic, but quite an excellent guitar player as well. Despite the somewhat spotty audio -- which is probably due to non-studio recording equipment and a performance venue not conducive to a concert -- James abilities rise above the obstacles. You can tell he is good at his craft.

"One Saturday" is a melancholy piece in which James sings about trying hard to find his way back to where he belongs. The way is slow but he's making progress "every step, three forward, only two back again." His live vocals are better than many artists' studio vocals.

An amusing track is "Something Vaguely Spanish," but it showcases one of the problems I had with this CD. James wastes the first minute noting that people have made requests, but he can't remember what they are. In order to fill the space until he can figure out what to play next, he improvises a little on the guitar for the second minute of the track. The melody, while short, is catchy and does have a hint of a Latin sound to it. It would be interesting to hear it fully developed one day.

"The Sun Still Rises" is a kind of bluesy piece. The lyrics start out talking about revolution, transition to destruction of the environment, move on to hints of nationalism and then end with repeating "dig down, dig down, dig down, dig down, deep...." No matter what is happening or where we're going, it is noted that the sun still rises every morning. Like many of James's songs, the lyrics are a little strange at face value. Perhaps they are a little esoteric for the masses. Whether you relate to the words or not, the singing and guitar playing are good.

While I found myself drawn to Hollingsworth's music and can only imagine how talented he is in the studio where imperfections can be minimized and mistakes simply recorded over, I cannot recommend Alive in 2005. The constant pub noise was not relegated to the background and was more than a little distracting. I also thought the dead spaces -- listening to dogs barking, James rambling, pub patrons carrying on conversations -- could have been cut even though it would have shortened the CD by a third. In short, check out James Hollingsworth, but skip his live CD. Well, maybe if you have enjoyed one of his live performances in person, it might be a good keepsake. Otherwise, I cannot imagine any appeal.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Wil Owen

22 December 2007

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