The yearning and searching heard from Griffin Holtby’s single “Overgrown” is real and ripped from the pages of his own life. Holtby knows more about the aforementioned experiences than your average nineteen year old and it comes through in every second of the three minute thirty seven second pop gem. Ukrainian by birth and raised in the American Southwest and Mexico by his adopted American family, Holtby has contended with a host of personal challenges to arrive where he is today. His music reflects that journey. “Overgrown” has an effervescent musical bounce and never contents itself with adopting a single approach, but it likewise resonates for listeners with a depth of feeling outstripping the work of his many peers and contemporaries in the modern pop world.
His music and songwriting, despite its clear individuality, fits in well with that world. “Overgrown” sparkles with obvious commerciality throughout the course of the track and Holtby tackles the track with inspired flair that never lapses into theatricality. You can hear the blues and R&B influences in his voice; they are not overt or overwrought but, instead, manifest through his ability to inhabit each line of the song with personality and a sense of personal stakes. You get the feeling listening to him sing that he is somehow putting himself on the line for listeners with each line and the vulnerability he brings to his interpretation of these lyrics makes “Overgrown” an even more invigorating listen than it might be otherwise.
The arrangement maintains a straight forward approach for much of the performance concentrating on a mid-tempo bounce. It has understated percussion and a strong presence of keyboards, but they never dominate the recording. The high point of the arrangement for me comes after the track’s midway point when the pop gloss falls away and listeners experience elegant piano and Holtby’s voice alone – this spartan backdrop for this section is the song’s emotional zenith and strips away any artifice to expose the track’s beating heart. It’s a memorable moment by any measure.
Griffin Holtby’s “Overgrown” is a flat out refutation of anyone who maintains young pop performers today are incapable of producing substantive music. Holtby’s work is born out of personal experience, sometimes thorny, but he has discovered a way of transmuting those moments close to his heart into performance heart capable of touching listeners on a deep level. This isn’t the first peak in his musical career and it definitely won’t be the last, but we will likely look back to “Overgrown” for some time to come as a defining moment when this young artist’s talents took flight in a way his prior success never anticipated.
“Overgrown” reminds us what accessible and well-crafted pop music is capable of. It crosses all lines and borders and speaks in an universal language. It is truly one of the more democratic art forms in our world today when it is done right. Even a single listen to Griffin Holtby’s new single should convince even the most cynical of listeners that Holtby has it right and will continue following this upward trajectory.
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