Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be shining our gaze onto Brian Willoughby, an independent singer songwriter in North Carolina who’s just dropped a fresh new single. The man has been a player in the indie scene for seven years now, but he’s currently only got one piece of music available publicly: ‘Not Holding On.’ The track’s available for stream and download on Band Camp. First, though, let’s touch on the song and see if it’s worth heading over there to get it...
Willoughby decided to upload this new tune with the lyrics right in the sidebar of the Band Camp page. So, before even listening, I dug into his words. The song doesn’t cover any new subject matter, but it’s definitely not a stereotypical ballad or the like, either. Willoughby had a significant other that he had a rocky road with - they’d break up, then they’d come back to him and he’d get back with them. Now, he seems pretty done with that.
Thus, the lyricism isn’t particularly strong, though it isn’t weak, either. “Feels like I’m losing my mind in emotional war,” is a killer lyric, however, and the emotion of the song more than compensates any weak points in the lyrical structure. Musically, it’s pop rock with a ‘singer songwriter’ edge. I like that Willoughby elects to go electric in his sound; it separates him from the rest of the acoustic-donning songwriters in his field.
There’s a terrific, though short little guitar solo in the mid-section of the song. Willoughby scorches through it, and it’s one of the finer moments of his performance. One of his claims to fame is a crowd-pleasing live rendition of Hendrix’s ‘Star Spangled Banner.’ That means the guitar is a huge facet of his musical persona. He needs to apply it more. It’s great in ‘Not Holding On,’ but feels restrained.
‘Not Holding On’ is a lovely track. It’s catchy, very well produced and performed, and hints at incredible instrumental prowess that remains untapped. Willoughby should strive to let his instrumental explorations explode in future endeavors - he’s clearly got the talent to do so. He also seems to be on a brand new journey, hence the new Sound Cloud and media presence. In that regard, ‘Not Holding On’ is an excellent way to kick that journey off.