The Musician Winter 2012
Blues Matter Magazine PDF here
Cosmic Harmony Records
"Whilst we are unlikely to be reviewing any of Madonna’s albums any time soon, we do take a look at some less Bluesy offerings at times. Just as Blues artists like Piano Red and Robert Johnson played Blues songs of joy and celebration, we have here a whole album of upbeat tunes. Corner Green is chock full of happy songs played by an artist who clearly feels on top of the world and who wants to share that feeling.
This album is an organists and keyboard players dream with magic words like “Moog” in the instruments list. There are some beautiful melodies, with some cracking accordion on the opener “Everything’s Clear”. In fact, this strikes the note for the entire album, with a cheerful interplay of instruments overlaid with Chris’s mellow vocals. “Run wild and free”, a faster track, has a Gerry Rafferty and indeed Beatles feel to it. It is also easy to pick up some sounds throughout reminiscent of Wings, Chris Rea and even the Bee Gees. “Under her smile” is an uplifting love song, and later “Grapes of Love” is about as Blues as the album gets, and is an outstanding track. A whole array of demo tracks grace the album, offering both value and some highlights, notably “Beautiful Fish”. Mention should also be made of some outstanding female vocals on the album, notably from Katy Shotter on “Spread love”.
No, this is not so very Blues. It is a different outpouring of the soul, and something good to listen to when in a glass half full mood, between the songs of hurt, sex, drugs, betrayal, drink and discrimination that populate much of the Blues. Nevertheless, this is a happy, dreamy album to listen to and may just put you in a good Moog. Sorry, mood."
Cosmic Harmony Records (2012) Corner Green
Christopher Holland has been a member of his brother Jools Rhythm and Blues Orchestra for many years, plus he’s worked with Squeeze, Green On Red and Chris Difford (who co-wrote one song on the album) amongst others. At twenty six songs this is a real labour of love, although eleven songs are classed as demos but listening to them they sound like the finished article!
Christopher Holland has a very melodious voice that really comes alive on the slower, more emotive songs like ‘Mother’s Song’ and the simply wonderful ‘Afterglow’, with its choral intro. It can wander into MOR territory for my own tastes like on ‘Funny Feeling’ but then the Supertramp feel of ‘Under Her Smile’ gets the old feet tapping. Opener ‘Everything’s Clear’ has already had radio airplay and with its George Harrison feel/sound its easier to see why (mind you I’d personally release ‘Funny Feeling’ next – perfect summery pop).
The playing is top notch as you’d expect with Christopher Holland handling most of the instruments along with Ron Box who adds guitars, bass, keys and err bugle, along with helping produce the album. The Beachboys cover ‘Funky Pretty’ is worth getting the album for just to hear how they replicate the trademark Beachboys sound and add a distinct British take. An enjoyable listen and plenty to enjoy.
**** Jason Ritchie
Album: Christopher Holland
Everything You Can Imagine Is Real
All those years watching famous big brother Jools tickle the ivories on the front room's baby grand have finally paid off for Christopher Holland. The younger Holland plays like the older - and sings uncannily like Jools' former Squeeze colleague Glen Tilbrook. And if 2005's Butterfly Effect was the showing-plenty-of-promise album, Everything You can Imagine is Real is the finally stepping-out-of-sibling's-shadow record.
The world is definitely Christopher Holland's oyster. Everything You Can Imagine Is Real is packed full of consummately crafted infectious tunes. Holland, helped by Hummingbird's honey-voiced Edwina Hayes, mixes up bouncy summery pop with laid-back country and exquisite less effervescent numbers such as Rhythm of Life. Like Squeeze's Tilbrook and Difford he's also gifted in the quirky songwriting department. Mother Nature is a prime example with its 'you've gotta be a part of it not apart from it'.
Musically, you can hear influences such as John Lennon and Neil Young. And Where Did Love Go? has all the sugar sweetness of the Monkees' Daydream Believer. Holland's extensive use of instrumentation is impressive: on one track, the gorgeously textured Love Is, you get the piano, accordion, mandolin, mellotron, flutes and triangle. Consequently, Everything You Can Imagine Is Real has a real warm feeling throughout.
You really cannot help but like the record - it's feel-good from start to finish with not a bad track in sight. The only criticism is that Holland has, for reasons best known to himself, included two songs Falling and White Stripe (a dead ringer for Neil Young's Don't Let It Bring You Down) that were on the last album Butterfly Effect.
Christopher Holland owes a lot to Squeeze. Jools Holland's wee brother spent much of his young life watching his talented sibling rehearsing with the band in the front room of his house. And that has clearly rubbed off. He plays like Jools and he sings uncannily like Glen Tilbrook!
On his latest album, Butterfly Effect with his Cosmic Harmony, the younger Holland proves he is unashamedly old-school pop. What you get are infectious tunes which are consummately crafted and often charming with many of the songs held together by deceptively melancholy keyboard refrains.
From the off, Christopher and chums, explore every wee nook and cranny of old-style pop. Along the way, warm textured sounds mingle with hypnotic bouncy music - making Butterfly Effect a superbly listentable album. Among some very good songs, are a number of little gems; Under Her Smile - the gentle opener - is in the latter category as is White Stripe which is reminiscent of Neil Young's Don't Let It Bring You Down.
Elsewhere, there is the enchanting Last Little Piece of My Love and Whispering Wind, a classy pop ballad, reminiscent of 10cc's I'm Not In Love. But the best of the bunch is the exquisite Falling with its quirky Sgt Pepper-esque instrumental happening midway through.
Q REVIEW APRIL 04
BROTHER SUN SISTER Q STAR RATING MOON
BEAUTIFUL RECORDS *** Good * * *
Jools' younger sibling calls in a few favours. With writing credits for both Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, it's no great surprise this self-financed debut should bear more than a passing resemblance to Holland's big brother's old band Squeeze.
Still, he's a strong summery songwriter in his own right, thankfully also avoiding the whiskery rhythm and blues he plays as part of Jools' big band extravaganza. With such old hands as Sam Brown and Laurie Latham also on board, it's no surprise the results are hardly cutting edge, but if keyboard- friendly retro types such as Keane came up with some of this they probably wouldn't be too disappointed. Danny Scott.BLUES NEWS
BBC Nottingham Music
Often hell play support slots when on his brothers tour; last time I caught a show at the Victoria Hall he manfully turned in half an hour or so of decent melody and lyric that more than reminded me of his brothers old mates in Squeeze. A chummy kind of boogie and stomp that gets rarely heard these days but somehow perfectly captures the power pop era. (Huge hint, every home should own a copy of Squeezes Greatest Hits). Anyway back to the boy Christopher. Brother Sun Sister Moon besides being the title of an incomprehensible l970s film,, is a very accessible piece of work and I have to say one of the best releases my ears have been introduced to this year.
Chris Holland has got a lot of talent, probably more than his sibling, who these days seems to make album after album with showy friends and big name vocalists. He wants to look in his own group; not only do they have the divine Sam Brown but his brother can barrel house and swing with the best.
Look for influences, however, and youll find more than a passing nod to the Kinks, Small Faces, the aforementioned Squeeze, The Band, classic soul and even a bit of Gerry Rafferty and probably lots more that I dont have time or space to type out. Each track rides on a sunny tune and great harmonies and the opening Summer Girl really should be all over the airwaves. Gone with the Wind begins with chords that sound like Up on Cripple Creek before meandering into a lazy romantic strum. Long as were together is a Stax blast of horns and percussion with a rollicking chorus. Without you in my Life is a jazzy blues. Look I could whitter on, but I think you get the drift that this really is one you shouldnt let slip away.
Christopher Holland is younger brother of Jools and like his older sibling, plays keyboards. He was inspired to make music by the front room sessions of Jools band Squeeze back in their early days. After some years with B Sharps, also featuring Chris twin brother Richard on drums ( and guitarist Lisa Covington). Chris continued to play with the likes of Green on Red, Stereophonics and Paul Weller as well as a regular stint in Jools Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. Brother Sun Sister Moon is his debut album on his own Beautiful Records label. Its a tasty selection of pop confections with a distinct 60s influence aided in no small part by the use of a battery of vintage keyboards and while its very radio-friendly there is plenty of substance too. Based on the evidence of this classy set well no doubt be hearing a lot more from Chris as a solo act.
MAVERICK - March 2004
Brother Sun Sister Moon
* * * *
In between touring
with his older brothers band (The Jools Holland Rhythm &
Blues Orchestra), and recording with the likes of Stereophonics and
Paul Weller, hugely talented keyboardist Chris Holland has found time
to put to tape sixteen glorious tracks of his very own. Playing by
ear from the age of seven, Chris wrote his first song aged 12, and
began touring with his first band B Sharp, at 16, once hed finished
school. He insists he always wanted to play guitar, but with all of
Jools pianos lying around the house, what was a boy to do.
SISTER MOON is his debut and he produced and mixed most of the songs
himself. His affinity with the keyboard is immediately apparent: Summer
Girl, the first of a series of radiant tracks basking in its warm
glow. And the showcasing of vintage organs doesnt let up throughout
its 51 golden minutes, providing a surreal hazy soundtrack to a modern-day
summer of love. Combined with the harmonies of guitar and his soft
John Lennon voice, its hard not to envisage the day-glo vibrancy
of the swinging sixties; long days in the California sun, hanging
out at Venice Beach, cruising Sunset Boulevard or tripping out in
Laurel Canyon. Stretching on into the l970s and Long As
Were Together is pleasantly reminiscent of the Jackson
5s One More Chance while Daffodil Sky reeks of the
disco funk explosion and Itll Be Alright is a gospel-tinged
slice of joyous pop. Music welcome in any decade and in any weather.
CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY March /April 2004
Brother Sun Sister Moon Beautiful Rcords
Holland is the younger brother of Jools and although this album is
his debut release as a solo artist, he is a regular member of his
big brothers Rhythm & Blues Orchestra. Jools himself makes a guest appearance as do fellow Rhythm & Blues
Orchestra colleagues Gilson Lavis, Mark Flanagan and Sam Brown.
CHRISTOPHER HOLLAND - BT004 CD
BROTHER SUN SISTER MOON - Nova via Pinnacle
Christopher is, of course, the brother of famous Jools, with whom he performs in his R&B orchestra. Yet, there is more to young Chris than meets the eye. On this sixteen track CD he: sings, plays a variety of keyboards and has composed most of the tracks.
is not an R&B album. If you are looking for influences try Bill
Withers, Stevie Wonder and Groovin period young rascals. But it is
Deptford's blue eyed boys Squeeze, who spring most readily to mind.
If you close your eyes and listen closely, it could be them.
A variety of
sonic mneumonics peppers the mix. The pleasant opening track has Pet
Sounds keyboards. Elsewhere funky wah wah guitar, backwards Byrdsian
guitar, double bass, mandolin and the ubiquitous Sam Brown embellish
Irelands greatest living writer John McGahern writes without chapters to move the reader effortlessly along. Chris adheres to the same principle, flowing from track to track. Like Little Feat's Last Record Album or The Notorious Byrd Brothers, there are few discernible joins. This makes for a pleasant, if not earth shattering listening experience. However, the CD is a fine example of Chris' craft and musicianship.