28 Nov 2022

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The Barry Holt Cohort - Single Review: 21st Century Rant

24 Feb 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

Wellington band The Barry Holt Cohort comprises of Barry on guitars and vocals, Chris Coad on fretless bass and Louie Levin on drum machine. Hailing from Liverpool, Barry grew up when that city was going through a period of austerity, and it is no surprise to hear punk and post punk in his style as well as The Beatles (of course) and T-Rex. There is an almost spoken style to some of his vocals, which made me think somewhat of a softer Joe Jackson, and there is an almost hypnotic feel to the repetitive melody. Apart from the chorus and bridge, the song follows the same pattern throughout, based on a simple bass motif, 4/4 drums and a 12-string acoustic. An electric guitar and an accordion add additional elements, but the underlying theme is never far away.

One can seriously imagine this being released on Stiff Records or through Rough Trade back in the day, as this is anti-establishment to the core, with lyrics which are political and current, which is perhaps not surprising given the title of the song. There is a clever twist in the chorus in that the lyrics change slightly so a different emphasis can be provided each time around, which is a surprise the first time it happens. It is a song which hopes that people will listen to what is being said and question what is in front of them, as is what is being portrayed actually real or just an illusion or falsehood? I can imagine Barry sharing a stage with John Cooper Clarke, with music which is simple, raw and incredibly real, with little in the way of polish or trickery, but instead relying on the words and the repeated motif to haul the listener in.

Rating: ( 3 / 5 )

About The Barry Holt Cohort

If you are a song writer from Liverpool, The Beatles are always going to be a big influence. Barry Holt is no exception. However, the influences exerted by the Fab Four are tempered by the experience of growing up in post punk Britain, in a city terrorized by the recession and the brutality of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government.

Add to this a multi-generational family tradition of being drafted into the army to fight Britain’s wars, and with the Falklands War threatening during his early years, many of Barry’s songs feature a dark message on the impact of conflict on life.

Barry Holt is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who writes in various genres and styles including for classical guitar and scoring for film and advertising. With the Barry Holt Cohort, a fluid association of musical accomplices, his main instrument is the 12 string acoustic guitar. He has performed his music on a number of continents over several decades, most recently Australia. He is now resident in New Zealand.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for The Barry Holt Cohort


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