Justin Nozuka - Holly

A low key Leonard Cohen intro builds into a Ray Lamontagne styled offering of depth, aching heart and a subtle, but swooning accompaniment for ‘Down In A Cold Dirty Well’. Right from the start this 18 year old Toronto raised soul-searcher, Justin Nozuka endears himself to the listener with his gritty gut wrenching reflection and dusty narrative. He tells of the inner struggle that is within most of us. Throughout this journey, an acoustic base is embellished with soulful backing cooing and, at times, some hollow exploration of both the instrumental and vocal style. ‘Be Back Soon’ captures a dusty blues vibe that many thought was lost a long time ago. Desperation and hopelessness are not themes that you would look for from a whippersnapper’s collection of material, but here it is delivered with authenticity and bite. The guitar element is almost like a ripple though the album that highlights the ups and downs of one of life’s thinkers.

The strength of emotion on display is borne out by the ability to sing as though you are clinging onto a rock above a fatal drop into oblivion, through ‘Supposed To Grow Old’. It is almost as though Justin is saying don’t worry about the dejection and reflection, as he imbues some uplifting soul and a positive, restful nature takes over for ‘I’m In  Peace’. However, the talking point of the album is the nettle grappling ballad ‘Save Him’ that fearlessly and poignantly takes on the volatile topic of spousal abuse. Slow hushing sounds open the book on a murderous tale that starts off as a fairytale, before the tone and tale turn bitter and chilling;

“She is begging please; don’t end my life you’re all I’ll ever need.”

Haunting, uplifting, wistful, swooning and musically crafted are all adjectives that need to be used, in order to fully understand and appreciate this bold and emotively straining debut album.

David Adair

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