Premiere: John Smith Debuts New Single "Hold On" feat. Jessica Staveley-Taylor | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, April 19th, 2021  

Premiere: John Smith Debuts New Single “Hold On” feat. Jessica Staveley-Taylor

The Fray Out March 26th Via Thirty Tigers

Feb 25, 2021 Photography by Elly Lucas
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Even by the standards of 2020, a pretty universally trying time, British songwriter and guitarist John Smith had a difficult year, filled with heartbreak after heartbreak. Following cascading personal trials and the pandemic putting all of Smith’s touring on hiatus, songwriting became Smith’s outlet and lifeline. His sixth record, The Fray, takes in all of his own trials, as well as the subsequent heartache and frustration, and turns it into a radiantly uplifting and deeply personal record. Smith has now returned with the final single from his upcoming record, “Hold On,” premiering with Under the Radar.

For his latest and final single, John Smith brings on Jessica Staveley-Taylor of The Staves for a lovely vocal feature. Staveley-Taylor provides the crystalline counterpoint to Smith’s pained vocal as he walks the line between heartbreak and hope. Smith brings an underlying melancholy to the track, but the narrative of the track is ultimately one of hope. Despite the hard times, Smith chooses to hold tight to those he loves and look forward to the future—“Took me a minute to see with open eyes / Whatever happens will be fine / Hold on / Take my hand and take it easy.”

Meanwhile, a nimble and percussive guitar riff provides an instrumental focal point, adding a brilliantly understated slow burn and easygoing energy. The instrumental subtly expands, bringing in a soulful horn line and a syncopated electric guitar rhythm that carries the track to its end. But these textural elements never overpower the gorgeous muted beauty and welcoming energy at the track’s core. It’s an unrelentingly warm and uplifting ballad, one that was as healing for Smith to write as it is to take in as a listener.

Smith says of the track, “‘Hold On’ is a song about the passing of years, living through good and bad times. The guitar is in a low tuning so it barks and has a little bite to it too. I spent a month with the riff before the words showed up, but then I wrote them down in an hour. It did me a lot of good. Songwriting as self-help. This one is about the need to keep the faith in yourself and to cling fast to the people you love. Sometimes the only answer to the problem of existence is to keep your chin up and dig your heels in. If we don’t hold on, we’re lost.” Check out the song below and watch for The Fray, out March 26th via Thirty Tigers.

thirtytigers · John Smith - Hold On


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