“You’ll have to excuse me, I’m not the most sociable person when I’m playing my music.” Reuben Hollebon self-consiously muttered to us whilst pacing the room between takes. It’s easy to see why, too. Playing songs as emotionally rich as his, particularly in such an intimate setting is like opening up your soul to a stranger, or meeting someone for the first time, naked. Not only is he a hugely capable musician – that stressy, hectic atmosphere he builds with his rapid, undulating finger-picking is no mean feat – but there’s also a vulnerable, almost apologetic quality to his delivery. In one song he conveys more honesty than the entire top 40 put together. Artistry of this calibre in music has always been precious, but as the industry increasingly blurs the lines between art and entertainment for the benefit of their own bottom lines, it feels even more satisfying to come across real, genuine artists whose voice is completely their own, and whose music comes from a place where things like entertainment are a mere afterthought. Here’s Reuben performing ‘Holy’, from last year’s EP Clutch.
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Words by Jim Pilling.