The Melodic Music Mastery of Holly Humberstone


Holly Humberstone.

Sophia Olson

Known for its intimacy, the 9:30 club provided the perfect backdrop for the musical mood that Holly Humberstone brought to her March 11th set. Immediately upon starting her set, Humberstone drew the audience into the intimacy of vulnerability that her musicianship radiates. Though separated by a barricade, Humberstone wrapped the audience into the musical tones of the whispered secrets of close friends recounting heartbreak and emotional turmoil. Dawned in orange sleeves and teal guitar Humberstone cocooned the audience into a room of communal emotional intimacy.

With multiple instruments sitting on stage, only Humberstone touched their keys. Performing solo, she demonstrated her intrinsic melodic and rhythmic talents. Through her set, Humberstone effortlessly glided between piano, guitar, and trackpads, all within one song. Rarely do we see an artist performing solo on a stage, yet Humberstone did exactly this. Holding her own and engaging the audience for the totality of her set, she showed that she is a Master of Musical talents.

Successfully mixing multiple instruments at once can be a feat for even the most experienced audio mixer sitting in a studio. However, Humberstone did the mixing in real-time, while on the stage, while performing, while (most importantly) keeping the crowd enraptured with her songs. Her ability to effortlessly set up backtracks, lay down piano tracks, while easily singing through each step, shows her musical talents run deep and easily. Through she transferred between instruments there was no gap in musical performance. The audience was in awe of their need to remind themselves that it was only Humberstone on stage. The effortlessness of Humberstone’s intra-song transitions demonstrated to the audience that Humberstone can hold her own when it comes to musical composition skills.

Vocally Humberstone makes it easy to understand her standout year and recent Brit awards. Her vocals give the impression of flittering fluttering without the breathy weakness that the style can lean into. Confidently swaying with her vibrant teal guitar, gives her unique vocal style a power that was turning all heads in the room.

At one point Humberstone was explaining a song to the crowd, before beginning she said, “I find conversations about mental health really awkward, so I wrote this song”. Yet, this makes perfect sense. Her ability to unpack and create emotional understanding shines through in her song’s compositions. Themes of deep emotional turmoil such as loneliness, and relationship strife are portrayed through lyrical means supported by complex bedroom pop means synthesizer moodiness. Her ability to express the complex, intersecting, and messy emotional turmoil shines through its overlapping and expressive tones. When announcing her next song would be “Scarlett,” the audience cheered with excitement. As she sang her way through the chorus audience members swayed to the lyrics drawing their own heartbreak and relating it to Humberstone’s poetic and cathartic lyrics and performance.

Through lyrics, seamless transitions, and incredible musicianship of both instruments and vocals, Humberstone left a lasting impression on D.C.’s music scene’s minds.  It is fair to say that Humberstone’s ability to entertain and emotionally connect will only continue to push her higher as she continues her musical journey.