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Justin Nozuka - Holly

Justin Nozuka, Holly

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

TORONTO-based singer Justin Nozuka may just be 18 but his songwriting shows a maturity way beyond those years.

Tracks like Save Him demonstrate a frightening awareness of the harsher aspects of life and take the form of a melancholy and hard-hitting look at a deeply trouble relationship. It chronicles a tale of abuse that ends in tragedy as heard by someone overhearing from the flat next door.

It’s an album highlight – but one that could easily put you into a downbeat mood if listened to once too often.

Fortunately, the rest of the album Holly mixes up the vibe.

Opening track Down In A Cold Dirty Well is a bluesy, folksy offering that once again tells a compelling little tale.

Justin sings from the perspective of a man stuck in the bottom of a well as his life flashes before him.

Elsewhere, there’s some more romantic interludes that come straight from the heart, such as the acoustic-based ballad Golden Train, or the breezy After Tonight, with its finger clicking accompaniment and more gentle strumming.

Throughout, Nozuka employs edgy, soulful vocals that veer towards the husky – but they work well in context with the songs.

If there’s a slight criticism, it’s that Holly lacks a track that really stands out and grabs your attention; a song that would grab him the widespread appreciation of a James Blunt or Morrison.

The album as a whole could also do with a little more humour, perhaps. But as debut offerings go, this rates as a considerable achievement; an album rich in imagery and potency that makes a mockery of the youth of its creator.

Download picks: Down In A Cold Dirty Well, Save Him, After Tonight, Criminal

Track listing:

  1. Down In A Cold Dirty Well
  2. Golden Train
  3. Be Back Soon
  4. Mr. Therapy Man
  5. Supposed To Grow Old
  6. After Tonight
  7. Criminal
  8. I’m In Peace
  9. Oh Momma
  10. Save Him
  11. If I Gave You My Life