This was the busiest we’d seen Chapel Arts. All the tables were occupied and quickly it became standing room only. “Sensibilities” is the title of Isobel Holly’s new EP and we went to witness its launch. Certainly, there were a lot of adoring fans present, so in theory this would be something special.
There might have been a touch of nerves present in Harry Miller as he took to the stage in his support slot? The words were a bit muffled in his first song and set off alarm bells for the rest of the set. However, if it was nerves he dealt with them well and by the second more punchy number there was no sign of them.
With the added confidence he backed off the mic a bit and gave us a chance to hear his voice properly, which is soft, husky and made great listening. However it was second to his guitar work, where he displayed an array of techniques and rhythms, marking each song with its own feel and keeping the audience connected.
If Harry has a weakness it could be in his lyrics, which are littered with idioms and cliches, but little story. This aside, he’s pleasing to listen to and if this is how he’s starting, then we can look forward to some great stuff from him in the future.
Recently, you might have seen a picture of Isobel Holly on the cover of The Guide, the Bath Chronicle’s entertainment pullout, with a tagline saying “Meet Bath’s latest singing sensation”. The publicity shots that go along with this article and her website present Isobel well. She’s clearly getting it right when it comes to marketing.
Her online profile says she’s been composing since she was 11 and lists a few career highlights, chief among them being BBC radio airplay and supporting Lera Lynn.
The build up continued with a lot of effort going into Isobel Holly’s set, from a number of supporting musicians and a camera team who seemed intent of capturing her performance from every angle.
It was a varied set, which started with a full band set up, followed by Isobel performing a few duets; first with David Smith, an acoustic guitarist and folk singer and next with Monty Willoughby, a highly versify pianist. The evening was concluded with the full backing band returning to the stage for a few more numbers.
As far as performances go it was well staged, Ed was working his usual magic on the sound desk and Chapel Arts had proved yet again to be the venue of choice for the discerning music connoisseur, but what about Isobel’s music, since after all this was her EP launch?
The songs had often heard themes of love and relationships and the compositions were good, however it was clear Isobel’s true forte lay with her voice, which is powerful, but can have a sultry edge too. Arguably the best moment came when it was just Isobel singing and Monty playing piano. This lead to the question “Does she really need all the other musicians?” as it felt in a way they were masking Isobel’s true instrument, her voice.
There was an underlying school-musical feel to the evening, possibly brought on by a number of choreographed moments, which had a slightly self-indulgent air.
All the songs were nice, but there wasn’t anything which stood out. Yes, Isobel Holly is packaged well and looks the part, but do we really want to hear another conveyer belt folksinger would-be starlet? As the Bath Chronicle put it “Meet Bath’s latest singing sensation”.
Hey, she’s only 16, has talent and has made a good start; the music industry has many doors and they’re all open to her.
Written by @LordSkitch
Reviewed 30 November 2016