Griffin Holtby releases Overgrown
Griffin Holtby’s single “Overgrown” doesn’t explore new territory in terms of subject matter, but the young songwriter proves himself capable of pouring old wine into new bottles with an aplomb equaled by few emerging talents in recent memory. The layered and varied sound Holtby achieves with this single is the result of hard work in the studio, without question, but the young man’s personal experiences inform his musical art in a manner we associate with seasoned musicians and songwriters rather than those not yet legal to drink. It doesn’t take long, even on a first listen, for Holtby to impress open minded listeners as a formidable talent with strong writing skills and a musical imagination that never panders to the lowest common denominator.
That last fact, if nothing else, separates Holtby from the pack. Holtby isn’t producing cookie cutter musical and songwriting experiences; listening to “Overgrown” is a heart-rendering endeavor because it is clear, from the first line onward, that this young singer/songwriter is intent on providing us an unvarnished view of his inner self. He writes in an idiosyncratic and fresh way about the experience of first love turning poisonous and the words manage to encompass a range of emotions without ever sounding fragmented or unfocused. It is all the more impressive Holtby has achieved this level of distinction before his 21st birthday, but he has paid for this maturity through trials and ordeals that might have permanently derailed other individuals.
Given up for adoption by his Ukrainian mother at a very early age and raised in Texas and Mexico by his American family, Holtby has contended with feelings of abandonment, the scourge of substance abuse, and depression before reaching full adulthood. Rather than succumbing to these difficulties in full, Holtby has undoubtedly channeled them into growing artistic prowess that other musical performers never reach. The polish and maturity co-existing with each other in “Overgrown” elevates this beyond the level of your typical disposable pop and hints at even greater things to come.
The musical arrangement is another strong suit. It has an appealing lift from the outset that generates a surprising amount of energy considering its mid-tempo pace. Holtby’s melody for the track sticks in your consciousness long after the song has concluded. It’s an ideal fit for his vocal phrasing as well and no moment in the track better illustrates that than the second half highlight of the pop backing falling away leaving listeners nothing but piano and Holtby’s voice working in tandem. It plays for me like the vibrant center of the song and his soulful voice fills you with the feeling that has obviously given birth to this composition and performance.
“Overgrown” is the first lasting achievement of many to come in a burgeoning career. It positions Holtby as one of the most promising pop performers to burst on the scene in recent memory and he has the talents to carry music such as this to a global level. Beyond the emotional heft and despite the pained subject matter, Holtby’s “Overgrown” is a wildly entertaining musical ride as well.