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JOHN HOLDEN

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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John Holden biography
Hailing from Cheshire, England, a multi-instrumentalist / composer John HOLDEN has had a strong emotional connection to music in his young age, especially progressive rock. Having played and composed for many years, John made the decision to commit to creating a full album of original material. In collaboration with lots of session musicians (see his album page) John has recorded and released "Capture Light" in 2018.

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JOHN HOLDEN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.65 | 19 ratings
Capture Light
2018
4.19 | 41 ratings
Rise and Fall
2020

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JOHN HOLDEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Capture Light by HOLDEN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.65 | 19 ratings

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Capture Light
John Holden Neo-Prog

Review by sussexbowler

3 stars On reflection, there are simularities between this and a Tony Banks solo album, in that there are many singers involved. The Fish songs always stood out on Tony Banks albums.

Whether many singers detracts from an album 'Being one whole' is a point. In 'Capture light' no one singer stands out, leaving the songs to take the laurels.

Again, like a Tony Banks solo record, 'Capture light' is a pleasant enough listen (Very enjoyable infact) without having moments that really stand out. All except two, that is. The first is the song 'Dreamcatcher' which I really enjoy and I find is in a class above, whilst the second is the haunting bell that precedes the last track 'Seaglass hearts'. You can almost smell the sea air.

If you approach the album in a similar way to a Tony Banks solo album, then you won't be disappointed. 'Dreamcatcher' is very enjoyable, and well worth a listen, but it's not enough to take the whole album into the 4 stars zone, for me at least. Regardless, it's still an enjoyable listen.

 Rise and Fall by HOLDEN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.19 | 41 ratings

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Rise and Fall
John Holden Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars Although the name John Holden may be new to many of you, I know the stellar guestlist involved in this album will be extremely familiar. More of them later, but hopefully that namecheck will intrigue you enough to search out what is an incredibly powerful album in so many ways. The other thing people need to do is go to John's website where there are full details of what every song means, how it came about etc. I am not going to try and condense that all within the review, as it is much better for everyone to go and read it themselves as it is the perfect accompaniment to what is an incredible piece of work. John provides guitar, bass, keyboards and drum programming and writes the music while his wife Libby provides the lyrics, and then together with the guests bringing in their expertise and experience these wonderful songs are then lifted to a whole new level. If I were pushed to describe the sound, I would suggest crossover progressive rock that somehow also has a hymn-like quality, and in many ways is quite bombastic while also being incredibly restrained. At all times it is the voices which are front and centre, and the use of different singers seems right in the context of an album which never sounds like a project but always like a solid performance from an incredible band. Every musician is there to do a particular job, and they all relish the opportunity to perform on the material, adding their own flavours yet never trying to dominate. For me, the section on "Dark Arts" that really made me turn my head was some rippling piano behind the main melody which only lasted a few bars yet totally transformed the song.

There is aggression, huge breadth of styles, yet it is always in total control. It may be solemn at times, yet there is a beauty and joy which swells through. I can imagine this being performed in a cathedral and the sounds reaching up to the vaulted ceilings and the reverberations and echoes taking the music to new heights. "Heretic" featuring "That" Joe Payne (The Enid) is incredibly powerful yet delicate, with Sally Kinnear providing some sublime backing and duet vocals. Sheer beauty, nothing less. It is hard to fathom this is just the second album by an independent musician, with no label support, yet surely it can only be a matter of time until he is picked up as this is a superb piece of work which needs much wider recognition.

Oh, those guests? How about Peter Jones, Sally Minnear, Lauren Nolan, Jean Pageau and That Joe Payne on vocals; Nick D'Virgilio on drums; Jon Camp, Simon Fitzpatrick and Billy Sherwood on bass; Vikram Shankar and Oliver Wakeman on keyboards; Zaid Crowe, Oliver Day and Michel St-Pere on guitar! They felt this was an important project to be involved, and your ears are demanding you get in involved with it as well. There is a grace within this album that is palpable. Go to the site, read about the album, then buy it ? you will not regret it.

 Capture Light by HOLDEN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.65 | 19 ratings

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Capture Light
John Holden Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars It is always a revelation when you land on some new hidden talent, an impulse that makes the hunt for musical stimulation oh so attractive. Therefore, I religiously follow certain progressive rock pundits whom I not only respect, but I also trust their well-crafted words in defining some style that I might feel comfortable with. Drew (aka BrufordFreak) is a long-time colleague who has introduced so many otherwise unknown to me artists, I am left with only the luxury of scouring the net, finding the target and clicking the "purchase" button. Such is the case with John Holden , a British musician who has recently released 2 intricate opuses, loaded to the gills with famous artists to guest on both the 2018 debut 'Capture Light' as well as the stunning sophomore 'Rise and Fall'. One word: IMPRESSIVE!

"Capture Light" sets the wheels in motion with the stirring "Tears from the Sun" , a 9 minute historical hymn that is a grandiose as one would hope for, guided by the lush voice of Joe Payne of The Enid fame, easily one of the UKs most powerful vocalist. Holden is aided by a duo of Olivers: Wakeman on piano and keys as well as Day on mandolin and guitar. The main theme is utterly memorable, sounding pleasant and familiar, an exhilarating entrance, to say the least.

When I first heard "Crimson Sky" , it did not do anything for me, as it was a change of direction that caught me quite by surprise, a traditional melody that harkens back to Oldfield's poppier albums featuring Maggie Reilley, here sung by Julie Gater. The chorus has a "I must have heard this somewhere before" feel, Billy Sherwood takes a lead guitar solo and its fun, quirky and addictive. In fact, I cannot seem to get that melody out of my head, damn musical drugs! The stately title track returns to more medieval stylistics, with piano, lute and acoustic guitar at the forefront, relating to Venice and its grand masters of art. Both Olivers do another tour de force, but Joe Payne really steals the show with an absolute operatic performance of a cathedral melody that is just magic as he hits the high notes like no other. Shivers down the spine.

"Ancient of Days" is more vocal oriented with Mystery's Marc Pageau on lead microphone, with the immense talent of Marc Atkinson (my current favourite vocalist), Julie Gater and Lee-Anne Beecher all on backing vocals. Prog choir extravaganza, a melody that sinks in immediately, very British and gospel at the same time. The music shifts to a more blues feel, the drums are held down brilliantly by Emily Dolan Davies, and John delivers some terrific licks on stinging electric guitar.

A big surprise comes up next "One Race", a wordplay on Jesse Owens in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, overcoming both internal and external racial prejudice in an overt Aryan superiority context with swastikas galore, and doing so with dignity and courage. Joe Payne delivering another stellar delivery, amid sound bites of crowd noise and oppressive Wagnerian fanfare. Lyrically poignant, musically expressive, this is another real gem.

Spoken intro on "Dreamcatcher", introduces a stylistic shift, closer to New Age explorations, seasoned with Native Indian influences, with Peter Jones guesting on flute and sax. The bass and the guitar also thrive in the arrangement as the solid drums shuffle gently along. Soothing little ditty.

And the fantastic pieces keep on coming with "No Man's Land", a jazzier universe where drums are handled by Gary O'Toole, a long time Steve Hackett member, while Julie Gater takes over the lead vocal duties once again. Love the lyrics here, with delightful twists like 'a subway to Paradise'. Moody and reflective, the arrangement evokes that space between the city and the countryside in lovely fashion, a very inventive take. The album ends on "Seaglass Hearts", a lovely ballad of two hearts beating as one, saxophone on the windswept beach, a gentle farewell balm of simplicity and purity.

A world class debut by a talented composer and musician, who seemingly has the gift of surrounding himself with right-minded and enthusiastic collaborators. It certainly captured my light! Rise and Fall is next.

4.5 Glow grabs

 Capture Light by HOLDEN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.65 | 19 ratings

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Capture Light
John Holden Neo-Prog

Review by alainPP

3 stars A great gentleman of music who starts to release his own tracks, nothing new at the moment. A musician who sees himself surrounded by musicians and singers of great renown, there it raises questions about the musical niches that said gentleman seems to have. When each prestigious guest comes to give a hand, something extraordinary is expected; it's almost the case with this first draft of John HOLDEN who offers on this album good neo-prog and melodic prog. The female melodic voice gives charm to the compositions, but it's not enough to make a very good album, it lacks a little maturity, a little pure creation to make a remarkable album. From a sure source, the last one has on the other hand this little extra that makes you want to dive back into it immediately. In short, let's not be too hard, but conciliatory.
 Rise and Fall by HOLDEN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.19 | 41 ratings

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Rise and Fall
John Holden Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars I was really not ready to listen to any new music this year until I was given notice from Bandcamp that John Holden had released a new album. Some of you may remember John's 2018 debut, Capture Light, the one that stirred none other than Maestro Steve Hackett to endorse and proclaim it's success, and an album that earned a B+/4.5 star rating from me. Well, John is back and much of the same amazing guest list from Capture Light is back contributing to eight brand new, amazingly sophisticated, mature, and polished religiously- or classically-tinged songs. Back are brilliant guitarist Oliver Day, singers "That" Joe Payne (THE ENID, METHEXIS, ZIO), Peter Jones (TIGER MOTH TALES, CORVUS STONE), Sally Minnear (daughter of Kerry, has performed with DAVE BAINBRIDGE), and Jean Pageau (MYSTERY), as well as Nick D'Virgilio (TEARS FOR FEARS, GIRAFFE, THUD, SPOCK'S BEARD, MIKE KENNEALY, COSMOGRAF, DAVE KERZNER, BIG BIG TRAIN, THE FRINGE), Oliver Wakeman (yes, THAT Wakeman; YES, STRAWBS) and Vikram Shankar (GRIOT, GRAVITY, LUX TERMINUS, THREADS OF FATE, SILENT SKIES, OUR DESTINY, and single song contributions of Billy Sherwood, Jon Camp (RENAISSANCE), Michel St.-Pere (MYSTERY), and Zald Crowe.

I don't know how John has attracted such a stellar cast of collaborators, but I'm so glad he has: his compositions, so steeped in religious and theatric traditions, are rendered here, as on Capture Light, beautifully, with absolute top quality skill and the highest quality of engineering and production. I usually don't begin writing reviews this early in the year, but this album was an auto-buy for me and has been on regular rotation since it came out a month ago? and I can't get enough of it. Five star songs: 1. "Leap of Faith" (10:11); 4. "Dark Arts" (7:06); 5. "Heretic" (9:18), and; 6. "After the Storm" (6:08).

Four star songs: 2. "Rise and Fall" (6:22), 3. "The Golden Thread" (4:53), and; 7. "Ancestors and Satellites" (8:56).

 Capture Light by HOLDEN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.65 | 19 ratings

BUY
Capture Light
John Holden Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A Cheshire cat has emerged from years in a monastery as a progressive rock artist--at least that's what the gorgeous music on this debut release feels like! His ideas and sounds have apparently been so winning that he was able to enlist the support and contributions of a veritable Who's Who of modern Prog World! Some of, if not THE, best singers in the Anglo Neo Prog world! (All of whom just happen to possess those extraordinary voices that seem to come out of church choir training.)

1. "Tears From The Sun" (9:06) opens with a long instrumental section in which virtually all of the sounds and instruments used conjure up, for me, the musical traditions of the Christian churches I spent time in during my youth. When Joe Payne's angelic voice(s) enters after the church organ in the third minute I am lost, won over by the brilliance of this new composer. And one cannot say enough about the genius of Joe Payne (who I know better from his work with Nikitas Kissonas' METHEXIS project than The Enid). I fear I'm not going to say enough about the contributions of guitarist OLIVER DAY while reviewing this album. Oliver Day. Keep that name in your mind--you'll be hearing more from him in the not-too-distant future, of this I am certain. My lack of appropriate praise will, no doubt, be due to the fact that I can get confused with the work that composer John Holden himself is doing, but this multi-instrumentalist (Oliver Day) is such an important part to all of these songs. His ability capture that sacred feel of Christian-inspired compositions from all eras of the past is uncanny. And nice work from Oliver Wakeman on keys. (18/20)

2. "Crimson Sky" (5:53) a fairly simple, straightforward rock song that is uplifted by the excellent guitar work from Oliver Day, John Holden, and Billy Sherwood--as well as by the soothing voice of Julie Gater. (8/10)

3. "Capture Light" (7:26) takes us to church--or is it that the church is being brought to us through prog music? This song is inspired by the art of Sixteenth Century Venitian painters Titian, Veronese, and Tintoretto. The use of lute by Oliver Day is brilliant! And, once again, the contributions of Oliver Wakeman on multiple keyboards is outstanding and not to be ignored. A top three song for me. (13.5/15)

4. "Ancient Of Days" (7:52) again, I this music, this song, makes me feel as if I'm at a church revival! It's so beautiful, so theatric, so uplifting! Nice drum work by Emily Dolan Davies and awesome prog choir from Jean Pageau, Marc Atkinson, Lee-Anne Beecher, and Julie Gater. (12.75/15)

5. "One Race" (6:11) containing a wonderful vocal from Joe Payne, this song mixes up styles and tempos to seemingly take us on a little biographical journey of 1936 Olympic hero, Jesse Owens. I love the jazz guitar flourishes in the fifth and sixth minutes as the story's tension mounts. Awesome song! One of my top three songs from the album. (9.5/10)

6. "Dreamcatching" (7:04) an instrumental inspired by Native American traditions that John decided to employ some spoken word clips from the creation story of the dreamcatcher. The music of this one falls a little more into the category of New Age/World Music. Nice contributions from Peter Jones. (12/15)

7. "No Man's Land" (6:13) inspired by "green therapy" and the disharmonizing psycho-spiritual effects that city life can create due to its disconnect from nature, John tried to incorporate a jazzy feel to this song to represent the city perspective. Julie Gater's soothing, healing voice must surely represent that of Mother Earth/Nature. Gorgeous singing, gorgeous lyric, gorgeous song. (9/10)

8. "Seaglass Hearts" (5:09) yet another absolutely gorgeous song with great performances from Emily, Julie, Peter, and, of course, John himself. Though the choice is difficult, this is probably my final top three song from the album. (9/10)

Total Time 54:54

I'm a sucker for anything with a religious tradition behind it--music composed out of sincere devotion and positive inspiration--and John has certainly delivered this in fullness. I also appreciate tremendously the clarity and spaciousness of the sound production. Great job! And I can't say enough about the talents of Joe Payne, Oliver Day, Oliver Wakeman, and Julie Gater!

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music.

Thanks to dAmOxT7942 for the artist addition.

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