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"you will love this CD from what must be one of the best song writers in the country."  - Bristol Rocks.                            Read more Quotes

cd_baby_logobandcamp_logo spotify_logo Coming Home to Stay (2007)

Coming Home to Stay - an acoustic album of 12 songs, with hooks, harmonicas, harmonies, hush and heaviness aplenty, delivered with James' characteristic passion and aplomb. More unusual tracks include the lyrically and musically palindromic Bounty of Id, (also a mini-saga - exactly 50 words) of just under 2 minutes and the epic 12-minute Long Way Out. Click the album cover pic, right, for a close-up. Click here for reviews

"Powerful performances, distinctive songwriting, a prog-rock sensibility pared down to the acoustic... and the perfect production. Brilliant!"

"Definitely in the same musical super-league as the great Nick Harper (and not many in that league)"

The first 100 CD copies of Coming Home to Stay,
with 8-page lyric booklets, were individually numbered, signed and dated as at the day of being hand-made by James himself. The CD now ships in a smart natural card sleeve, and is available for £5 at James' gigs.

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"Fast-paced bluesy folk-rock song from the heart - a gutsy, gruff and plaintive vocal, with a pleasant vulnerability if you listen for it, alongside urgent acoustic and blues electric riffs. We're reminded of early Fleetwood Mac, Cat Stevens, Richard Thompson, Doobies and Al Stewart, just to give you an idea... but James Hollingsworth has a blissfully original sound."

- Lemonrock, who chose Way Down South to be their Song of the Week, 19 November 2007.

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‘Coming Home to Stay’ is a collection of songs written over a sixteen-year period, during which the world has undeniably seen some phenomenal changes. Therefore, something that immediately caught my attention was the fact that the tracklisting was in no kind of chronological order whatsoever. Would this mean that the CD lacked cohesion? Would this even matter? I began to think not as soon as Hollingsworth’s impassioned vocals reached over and pulled my tired eyelids open. Opening track Sooner or Later’s assertion that “Looking around the world it’s hard to see how things will ever get better” is hard to disagree with when given the thought that this music inspires. It’s rare nowadays for it to be irrefutably true that a vocalist genuinely means every word he sings. This much doesn’t so much confirm itself to be true as leap out from behind a nearby rock and slap you about the face with a frozen kipper. Hollingsworth’s guitar playing is also gloriously uncalculated and astonishingly heartfelt, sometimes giving little concern to structure. If it wasn’t for the excellent production I’d believe that these tracks were recorded on a portable tape in a mountain forest in a single afternoon.

A partial first viewing of The Doors film last night made me appreciate music in its purest form again overnight after recent forays deep into digital territory. This CD brought to mind The Doors, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake and just about every revered artist from that era who stood out through stamping their personality on every song in a way that is impossible by any means except as a natural default. James Hollingsworth’s songs couldn’t be described as the sound of the future, they could have been written any time in the last thirty-plus years or any moment in the rest of time and will still stand alone on their own merits. Singer-songwriters are largely ridiculed nowadays, or are lumped together in one monochrome net by scornful scenesters but great art, to my mind, can largely be defined as personal expression that comes straight from the soul of its creator. This is exactly what is on offer here.

Highlights include ‘Beyond Revelation’ with guitar playing so starkly emotive it feels like it would fall apart if you reached out and prodded it, overlayered with singing that cracks and flutters alternately to almost dizzying effect. ‘Way Down South’ is a flamenco-tinged canter that wouldn’t sound out of place on a psychedelic arthouse film set in the Nevada desert. A piano appears on ‘Saturday Road Ahead’ and I imagined myself standing at the top of a cliff in a tiny village in Iceland in November with aurora borealis bringing the sky to life.

The epic ‘Long Way Out’ is really quite a voyage – the intro showcases Hollingsworth’s impressive dexterity and is lent a spooky edge by the faint sound of conversation simmering underneath, then the song itself sets off on a dusty country road, with the singer at one point sounding like a blue whale giving its mournful cry across the ocean. It’s one of those rare pieces of music that if it went on forever may just draw the listener into its own Bermuda triangle – see also ‘The End’ by the Doors and ‘Galaxy of Emptiness’ by Beth Orton to name just two.

I was left wondering if these were simply highlights hand-picked from a library of yet to be discovered treasures. If so then I suggest we all take a week off work, head out to the Cornish countryside and hole up in a house several centuries old for James Hollingsworth appreciation week. Who’s with me? Well, it was a nice idea while it lasted. Regardless, this artist deserves bucketloads of your respect. He may not be a trendsetter but there are very few like him.

- Dave Urwin, Live Music Scene online magazine

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James Hollingsworth is one of my top ten favorite male singer/songwriters of all time!

His songs are haunting tone-poems that get under your skin and make you want to go back again and again. Soaring vocals, goose-bumps, a gorgeous, authoritative, clear voice that stands strong on top of minimal accompanying instrumentation, a master of inflection, a major vocal+songwriting talent combination.

Instruments are one or two acoustic guitars, harmonica, an occasional soulful electric guitar lead without distortion, and piano on one song.

I hear subtle influences in his vocal style coming from Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Steve Winwood, Ray LaMontagne, Cat Stevens, and every now and then, just a touch of Richie Havens and even Joe Cocker (but not in Cocker's "extreme" mode, if you know what I mean!) James' note: "Yes, definitely! Except the ones with letter 'M's and 'W's in their names."

These are deep, powerful songs, not your ordinary mainstream fluff. You will think about them. There is a psycho-spiritual understanding embedded in them that cannot be pigeonholed as this-or-that philosophy. You will find many gems of insight in them.

I would like to comment on three of the songs on this CD.

Still Lights Up the Rain-- This song appears to have strong influential ties, for those who go back far enough, to Jefferson Starship's first album, Blows Against the Empire (1970); in particular, to a song on that album called Have You Seen the Stars Tonight? The modal acoustic tonalities in both songs transport me back to a very nostalgic, 60's-idealistic time in my life. In this song (and others) his acoustic work has the feel of Bruce Cockburn and the Jorma Kaukonen / Paul Kantner combination in acoustic Jefferson Starship and earlier acoustic Jefferson Airplane songs. [Lyric excerpt: Watching for the Stars in the City skies / Amber reflections banish them from our eyes / As we sit here smiling in the Garden of Eden / Overgrown by the years of neglect / By unnamed others, a legacy of the past imperfect...] - James' note: "Hmmm... actually I've never heard that album. Saw Jefferson Starship at Reading 1988, but can't remember any of their songs. Sounds like I should check out the Airplane instalment of that collective! Oh, sorry, I'm turning this into an interview..."

Coming Home to Stay (title song)-- almost makes me cry (in a good way, of course.) A feeling from my past, a letting-go, an accepting that felt so relieving and so right, a closure of a chapter in my life. Strong, strident acoustic guitar chords-- he gets more dynamics out of his acoustic guitar than many are capable of on electric. [Lyric excerpt: People laughing with their friends / They laugh the world away / People clinging to their dreams / They let them slip away / Oh I couldn't hold on til the end / I let it pass me by / All meaning scattered to the winds / And never free to cry... Oh, God! He knows the reason / Coming home to stay...]

Saturday Road Ahead-- this song is so powerful! Same effect on me emotionally. I put my box on "repeat" the first time I heard it, sang to it six times in a row. [Lyric excerpt: I see the sky open up before me / I see my road is soon to bend / I couldn't face, no I couldn't face that again / But I see the time is coming for a change... I thought I saw myself, I turned as if to say / you'd better pick up the pieces / before they blow away...]

Mr. Hollingsworth also has a CD titled Long Way Out.


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JAMES HOLLINGSWORTH of Bristol, UK is talented. That's an obvious statement and one that few would argue over. It's the degrees of the talent that might cause a few to squabble. Is he a better singer, than guitarist? Is he a better poet than musician? Who's his contemporary in the American scene?? (You know how we love comparisons.) In the end, we all know it doesn't matter, but we enjoy trying to dissect another's giftedness as if to 'discover' for ourselves a shortcut to their greatness. But even if we're successful at pinpointing what it is that we think makes them special, without their particular DNA, we can only hope for, at best, a substandard duplication, but hardly a flattering imitation, of their uniqueness.

James Hollingsworth is UNIQUE and dare I go out on a limb, I don't think he has an equal, especially when you consider the sub total of what he does.., and how he does it. Yes, there's the obvious John Martyn reference that will undoubtedly arise when you listen to him in passing, but with the exception of them being fellow countrymen, the comparison is unfair, being more than a few generations apart, there's something decidedly more spiritual and mystical in James' writings. COMING HOME TO STAY is a journeyman's CD in that the songs represent many different stages of growth and musicianship as they span from 2001 to the present day.

But the journey isn't necessarily his to travel along, but you're invited in a most intimate way to participate, from the opening lines of the first tune, Sooner or Later (2003) where he offers you the opportunity of common introspection:

When you look around the World
It's hard to imagine how things are gonna get better
Without feeling like an idealistic fool...

I don't wish to divulge my point of view on the remaining 11 tunes as what I truly feel and learned about myself as I listened is quite personal and I suspect you'll feel the same, if you give the full CD a full and complete listen. I can only implore you to take the journey with James through his poignant songbook in this latest release and then let him know personally how he's touched your soul, as he undoubtedly will. Musically, lyrically and vocally, it's stunning and thought-provoking and just sits well in your spirit as you listen...

- `EDEN of Albuquerque

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James has really established himself now as a prolific song writing machine. He continues to come up with clever lyrics and haunting melodies. From the recording process through the production to the art work, is no less than pro quality.

This CD contains twelve tracks featuring James's superb vocal performance and excellent guitar playing. It's hard to choose a favourite or least favourite track because they are all good.

At the end of the day of course it comes down to personal choice. The tracks I liked best were 'WAY DOWN SOUTH' and 'STILL LIGHTS UP THE RAIN'. I have no reason for that choice other than they were the most pleasing to my musical ear. My least favourite selection is 'THE BOUNTY OF ID' which to me had questionable harmonies (read James' comment on this below) and 'BEYOND REVELATION' which I found a bit dreary, but again that does not mean they are better or worse than any other track on the CD.

Whilst listening to the album for the second time, I started to change the arrangement of a couple of tracks in my head and it got me wondering what another artist or band would make of them. As much as I love James's voice I felt that 'YOUR NOT THE ONLY ONE' and 'WAY DOWN SOUTH' are crying out for a bigger production. Maybe the JEBO full band treatment.

There are lots of influences filtering through this collection from the likes of 'Donovan' 'Cat Stevens' or whatever his name is now, 'Ralph McTell', 'Leonard Cohen' etc. (I use the older names because I am old), but that can only be a good thing and I think you will love this CD from what must be one of the best song writers in the country.

We should be able to add him to our Famous Bristol Musicians Section soon!

- >Bristol Rocks.

James comment on the 'questionable harmonies' in his song The Bounty of Id - "this part of the song is supposed to sound strange. It's during the middle, the turning point section of this palindromic piece. The discordant voices were actually specifically chosen to match the diminished chords that back them. They may not be to everyone's taste, but they're over within a few seconds... peace."

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James Hollingsworth is a man steeped in the troubadour tradition. It feels like just the man, his guitar and the open road. Ok a little bit of gob iron (harmonica) as well. The timer on my music player tells me this is exactly one hour long. What it doesn't tell me is the words and phrases that James squeezes into that hour. 12 minute plus epics feel as at home as two minute blitzes. It's an album that feels as much a gallery as it does a songboard. Hollingsworth paints canvas with his songs, there is something almost visual about them. It's easy to slip into character for the songs.

- FATEA Records

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One thing you have to say about James Hollingsworth; he's nothing if not sincere. His opening song, "Sooner or Later," says that when we look around, we see everything's going to hell and ...

it's hard to imagine how things will get better
without feeling like an idealistic fool
who's gone and traded dreams
for what's before his eyes
who sooner or later, has to get wise.

So maybe it's hard to feel optimistic, but that's only because we aren't wise and, according to Hollingsworth, we're on the road to wisdom. Other songs proceed down this same path. "Still Lights Up the Rain" has the speaker declare that he and his love are sitting in the Garden of Eden, which is, by the way, "overgrown by years of neglect" but ...

as I raise my eyes to Heaven
to take in the air and breathe in the sight
forgiveness shows the brightness
in a very different light
'Cause it still lights up the rain.

Hollingsworth loves the big statement. In "You're Not the Only One," he remembers the "opening words of love" that came when God looked down from above, but left the speaker on his own, only to be blessed and told by God that he is not the only one. Hollingsworth also loves ballads; most of his songs are slowly paced and very, very earnest.

I'm emphasizing the lyrics because, frankly, that's about the best thing James Hollingsworth has to offer. If you respond to the single-minded sincerity and earnestness of his music, you'll probably like this CD. Me? Well, I found myself longing for Hollingsworth to relax, maybe laugh a little.

- Michael Scott Cain (RIP) at Rambles.net

"looking at his other reviews, I think I got off quite lightly there!" ;-)

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"It is great!" - Moon Suk (Multi-Media artist, Soprano, ZDF-Morgenmagazin...)

                                          Home to Stay album original
                                          cover art

cover art from the original 2007 release

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