Fabian seems to have sprung fully‐fledged from nowhere though he’s been playing music and performing live since a youngster. He grew up in an artistic household where performance and artistic expression were part of everyday life, listening to blues guys such as Sonny Boy Williamson and Muddy Waters. His early influences (drawn from his father’s record collection) were Muddy Waters, R.L Burnside, Son House, Howlinʼ Wolf, Chuck Berry and Skip James (the last’s classic ‘Hard Times Killing Floor Blues’ is rendered subtly and hauntingly on Fabian’s début album). He started playing guitar at the age of seven, taught by his father who also played harmonica. Fabian later attended the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, studying under the watchful guidance of the sadly missed guitar virtuoso Eric Roche. After his studies he moved to the mountains of the Abruzzo Region, Italy, where he spent four years developing his musical style, busking, gigging and composing. He later returned to the UK to pursue his music career; he now lives on his narrow boat on London’s canal network.
Fabian plays two Lowden guitars, a 1994 Lowden O10 (which he currently uses as his main instrument) and an old Lowden S22 that was bought from a luthier in Scotland who claimed it once belonged to a member of Steeler’s Wheel. ”Lowdens in general are just lovely to play”, he confirms. Whatever the model or make, Fabian plays guitar with a subtlety of touch and great fluency. His creativity is a joy to hear.
His eponymously titled, début album is produced by Mark Hutchinson (who also produced recent albums for the likes of Blair Dunlop, Walsh and Pound, Spiers and Boden and the Albion Christmas Band).
“I think Mark and I both agreed from the start that simplicity would be the key to this album,” says Fabian ”with guitar and vocals being the main focus. We decided on a concise album and picked the tracks carefully. Most of my songs are stories influenced by people I’ve met along the years and I’ve travelled about a bit so I’ve met all sorts of interesting people. There are two traditional tracks in the album, ’Banks Of The Dee’ and ’Dr Price’. These are not widely known trad songs; I like that because it offers people something they may not have heard before. Through the whole album the guitar and vocals were recorded at the same time and I think this produces a very real and immediate sound, rather than something contrived through studio trickery.”
That reliance on the performances themselves, his vocals and guitar stylings, produces a most compelling début album. In its simplicity and directness, it harks back to the folk of an earlier golden age, but it has no need to reference specific musical influences or iconic performers. Fabian Holland is indeed a singular new talent.
Artist web links www.fabianholland.com – www.rooksmerestudios.com