Dave Holmes

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"Raw" the new album from Dave Holmes

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Raw by Dave Holmes

After 25 years or so being a freelance guitarist and playing other people's music, the dam finally burst and I could hold back my creative urges no longer. Writing became more important than everything else. Three and a half years later, this is the result: Raw.

I set out to write a collection of songs that were about me and people close to me, songs that were honest and open. And also to figure out what sort of guitar player I am. After so many years playing so many different styles of music I needed to refocus. I seem to have unconsciously written in a style reminiscent of the music I was listening to before getting involved in the 'business' of music, when it was purely about enjoyment and escapism.

I chose musicians who are not only consummate professionals, but who play with their own unique style and personality; musicians with similar taste who would hopefully, enjoy what I was writing! They are also good mates. Jamie Little on drums, Alex Meadows on bass, Graham Dee on vocals, Neil Angilley on keys, Shan Chana on percussion, Chris Fish on cello and Sara Colman on vocals.

The drums, bass and rhythm guitar parts were recorded 'live' to try and capture some of the energy created when musicians play together, influencing and inspiring each other, reacting to each other as they play. There's nothing like being completely locked in time with a drummer and bass player. It's the most exhilarating feeling for me - much more so than the excitement of soloing. Alex and Jamie are two of the funkiest mofos I know, so it wasn't difficult! I don't think we ever did more than three takes.

I never really had much idea what I wanted from the keyboards, so all the parts are Neil's creations just working from a chord chart. For someone with such a vast musical knowledge and technical ability, he can play with such tasteful simplicity. I love the organ parts in Shifting Sand, where he added such strong melodic lines in what I felt was already a fairly full arrangement, beautifully complimenting the acoustic guitar and bass lines.

The percussion parts on Reason's Demise and Love Divine were recorded in the pit at the Aldwych Theatre, London. Shan and I were in the Dirty Dancing band at the time. We just turned up early one afternoon, Shan with his clay pot, finger cymbals and shakers, me with my laptop, audio interface and an AKG 414 mic, and laid down the percussion parts in half an hour or so.

We recorded Graham's vocals at Paul Tarry's. He always arrived well prepared with suggestions and ideas, stamping each song with his inimitable style. It was so useful having another pair of ears during those sessions. While I concentrated on working with Graham on the phrasing and feel of the vocals, Paul kept an engineer's ear on proceedings to make sure that everything worked on a technical level.

Fine performances from Chris Fish and Sara Colman completed the recording. Paul and I then mixed the album, keeping production to a minimum. I wanted it to sound like a bunch of musicians playing together without too much editing and fine tuning; one of the reasons for the title, Raw. So much energy is lost through the quest for perfection. There's so much over produced, soulless, bland music out there. Life is imperfect and I wanted my songs to reflect the knocks and rough edges.

You may find some of the lyrics emotionally raw. Everyone experiences challenging times. Personally, I find heartfelt songs uplifting, even if they seem sad. It can be encouraging to know that someone else has had a similarly tough experience and you're not alone in yours. I find it empowering to acknowledge and accept these challenging times. Facing them head on opens you up to the possibility of experiencing real joy. My 'sad' songs represent a relatively small period of painful time...that has passed. A profound episode when lessons have been learned, that is now over. Live for the pleasure and pain!

If these songs make you shiver, feel uplifted or disturbed, want to cry or dance, then my mission is accomplished.

Enjoy the album!

© 2012 Dave Holmes

Dave Holmes