Matthew Holtby, originally from Oshawa, ON, and now based in Warkworth, ON, has been steadily building his repertoire of singles over the past two years. Collaborating with Peterborough, ON Producer Michael Phillips, Holtby has been exploring the sounds emanating from his acoustic guitar, often accompanied by his bandmates, close friends, and even his Father. Last year, he released two independent singles that caught the attention of CBC and secured him slots at various festivals. Additionally, Holtby had the privilege of opening for the legendary blues rocker David Wilcox to a sold-out crowd in his hometown of Oshawa. His Americana-style sound, showcased in his previous release, received favorable online reviews. However, with his latest self-titled EP, Holtby has veered away from his familiar stripped-back acoustic sound, delving into a more mystical and enchanting musical realm.
The opening track, “A Certain Place In Time,” introduces a sound that may seem unfamiliar to long-time listeners. The song commences with a haunting fiddle played by Port Hope’s Manja Horner, leading into a dynamic composition that undergoes explosive crashes and implosions. Long-time friend turned new bandmate Ken Kucharic contributes a David Gilmour-inspired lead guitar performance. The subdued vocals are accompanied by a robust backing band, creating a sonic journey that resonates like thunder and crashes like the sea. The lyrics, featuring vivid references to nature and weather, paint a captivating picture with lines like “the green fades from leaves and trees carry weight of falling snow.”
The EP’s “single” is the second track, “Goodbye Song,” a straightforward pop-rock anthem written in Holtby’s in-law’s home where he once resided two years ago. During his search for a new home with his wife and two kids, staying in a loft near Stoney Lake, Holtby awoke with the melody of the song he had dreamed about the night before. With his Norman guitar in hand, he crafted a three-and-a-half-minute jam that seamlessly fits alongside tracks by The Lemonheads, Matthew Sweet, or Wilco.
Closing the collection is “People I Admire,” a somewhat biographical song touching on real-life loss, enhanced by a playful saxophone and honky-tonk piano. Holtby’s affinity for New Orleans life and culture is evident in the song’s lively instrumentation. The EP’s artwork, reminiscent of vintage jazz releases, captures the intentional nostalgic vibe. In summary, this three-song EP invites repeated listens and adds a new dimension to Holtby’s already diverse and heartfelt musical catalog.
The EP’s release will be commemorated with live performances, both solo and with his band.