Under the Red Island Bakery is a staggeringly beautiful and intensely personal album by the prodigious guitarist/multi-instrumentalist and genuine song craftsman Fabian Holland.
It is hard to believe that the entire album was recorded in one day, as single takes, and that Holland performed each instrument on each track (except for trumpet), shifting from one instrument to the next in such an effortless and adaptable way.
This kind of performance in itself is an incredible feat of concentration and tenacity
The music is an idiosyncratic style of folk in which Holland hangs out his stories with a soft, forthright vocal and sober lyrics that are slightly reminiscent of a less showy Damien Rice. He produces a magnetic yet ligneous vibe over rambling stringed arpeggios some of which bring to mind revered folk guitarists John Fahey or Robbie Basho.
In between all this finger fire is a bundle of dark impassioned blues, solemn alt-pop and percussive harmonics that all seem to carry with them a deeper undercurrent of emotion that Holland emotes quite gracefully. It is refreshing to hear a singer songwriter who approaches their work with an obvious sincerity and that the songs themselves come from a ‘real’ person who has been living their life full of love, loss, fatherhood, and perseverance thru uncertainty, whilst keeping track of the days and expressing what they have experienced wholeheartedly.
“In between all this finger fire is a bundle of dark impassioned blues, solemn alt-pop and percussive harmonics that all seem to carry with them a deeper undercurrent of emotion that Holland emotes quite gracefully”
Holland not only puts this approach into the writing but also into the method of recording, engineering, and the overall sound production. It is obvious that he has a game plan and part of that is an intention to get the listener into the room with him where this album was brought to life.
Under The Red Island Bakery is a peak through a crack in a basement city window into the private world of an artist who is grappling between fate and choice and several haunted instruments at the same time.
Photo by Louise O’Gorman