For a lot of independent bands, the onset of Covid and the subsequent lockdown has been pretty disastrous, especially for those who play a lot of live gigs.  However, for Holding Poison, lockdown became the impetus to get them into existence as guitarist, bassist and vocalist Matt Blackwell suddenly found himself with the time to write.  Bringing long time friend Jack Findell (guitars) into the mix meant that the songs were recorded and Holding Poison was born.  The involvement of Joe Lazarus (drums), Georgie Carter (backing vocals), Charlie Carter (backing Vocals) and Andy Wells (keys) completed the recording line up.  Add in Grammy winner Marc Urselli to mix and master and EP By A Thread came into being.

Conceived and recorded during a pandemic lockdown gives the five tracks on By A Thread a tight focus that is more than matched by the tight rock sound.  Beginning with ‘Sitting Duck’, Matt and Jack take us on a speedy musical journey with immense danceability – you know you’re listening to something good when the tracks zip past so quickly, you’re shocked when it ends.  It’s a definite play twice at once EP.  Ostensibly about being messed about in relationships, the lyrics inevitably lend themselves to looking at how life has changed in the past twelve months; more than once, I’ve heard the global population referred to as sitting ducks waiting for a pandemic to come along.  Moving onto the title track and this song does just that, singing about having to step away from toxic relationships and the difficult moments that entails. 

The standout track for me, is ‘Losing Grip‘, a song that looks at the struggle of finding your place in society and the question of how a whole generation seems so lost.  Particularly relevant in 2020/21, the track discusses how this has come to be, the difference between what was promised and the reality, being brave enough to ponder if promises of ‘freedom’ and having a choice were ever there to start with.  There are no easy answers here and the final track, ‘Tick Tock‘, does not hesitate to show this:

“I don’t want to play this game anymore…play the lie until we die”

The mixed tempo of this last track reflects the uneasy tone of wondering where time goes, is this all that life has to offer?  Musicians and performers have had a rough ride since this time last year and I’m sure these existential questions will have and will continue to have been mulled over many times over, but rarely with such verve.  The overall sound is tight, with the drums from Joe Lazarus doing a fine job of holding it all together.

Singer Matt’s advice for aspiring musicians is simple and to the point:

“Just enjoy what you’re doing and writing, The rest just falls into place.”

By A Thread was released on 24 March on Spinnup Records. Get your copy here.

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