Griffin Holtby’s “Overgrown” is a performance exuding charisma and self-assurance from the outset. It isn’t the tinsel-strewn and forced variety that too many pop artists take on in the modern era, but rather than natural kind resulting from genuine substance and confidence in the message you want to deliver and the talent to back it up. This single doesn’t broach new subject matter in songwriting, it is born out of Holtby’s experience with early love that became unhealthy and disappointing, but yet it surges with raw emotion and yearning that makes its depiction of such as fresh for listeners as if Holtby is still in the grips of lost love’s allure. This young nineteen year old Ukrainian born and American raised performer has seen his obstacles in life, many self-inflicted, but music such as “Overgrown”, no matter its subject matter, testifies to the worth of art as a proper channel for giving vent to the fullest range of emotions and experiences.
It is a blessing to possess such talents. Despite the song’s subject, there’s a victorious aura surrounding “Overgrown” – it says to me, not in words but in feeling, that Holtby may be experiencing the emotions depicted in the song’s lyrics, but he is surviving them and the experience of performing this track is a cathartic one. You can hear that in his singing and the music alike, but the singing is where that feeling achieves its strongest hold over listeners.
Overgrown is an original song written by Griffin Holtby and released on November 15, 2019.
He tackles the lyrics and vocal phrasing with confidence far beyond his years. Holtby performs like someone who has primed himself for moments like this since birth and his voice is a flexible instrument allowing him the latitude to incorporate the song’s emotional spectrum into a condensed frame. Three minutes thirty seven seconds isn’t a particularly lengthy duration for most performers but Holtby makes each second count as a singer.
I am taken by, as well, how he molds his voice to serve the arrangement. Holtby is a solo performer, but exhibits the characteristics of a front man – he sings with the music, never imitating the melody but rather complementing it, instead of singing over the track. He understands when to accentuate certain moments in the track with emotion and when to play things in a much straighter fashion. These are lessons you cannot teach. There are backing vocals recurring throughout the song as well that pair up well with his voice.
It is particularly clear in the song’s second half when the pop setting gives way to Holtby singing along with superb piano playing. It affords us a chance to hear his singing talents shorn of any additional musical dressing and focuses listener’s attention. The guitar fills scattered throughout the song are another intelligent touch that gives it some bite it would otherwise lack. There will be many more instances of his gifts to come, to be sure, but I think we’ll look back on this track soon enough as an auspicious early entry in one of the more satisfying discographies the pop world offers. Griffin Holtby will be a hit with many listeners and has the staying power to continue for years to come.