One of my hopes in supporting smaller artists is that one day some of them will get their “big break”. I’ve seen a few smaller bands become some of the mainstays in the progressive community, and that makes me happy. But sometimes they get recognition outside of the progressive community, too. I’m referring to Shaun Holton, formerly known as Projected Twin, and his new album Earth Meet World. The album released on September 24th.
Shaun is an Australian artist that I’ve been following since 2013. He has long gone by the name Projected Twin, but after recently getting cast on The Voice Australia, most of his online presence goes by his own name now. That isn’t the case on Facebook, though, I’ve noticed. Anyways, Shaun takes care of most of the instrumentation here, with guests filling in the gaps: Alana Catman on drums, Alexander Kiter on additional guitars, and a long list of guest vocalists (primarily appearing on tracks 1 and 5).
Here’s the thing: Shaun has been writing this music for some time. It has been since 2013 since he released a full-length album, and he’s talked publicly about walking away from music for a few years. But his heart was always still in the art, and he’s come back with a vengeance. He even found himself performing a duet with Keith Urban on The Voice, getting his moment in the spotlight for a global audience. I can’t help but smile about that.
With the name change also comes a change in musical tone. Not a huge change, mind you, but definitely something different. Projected Twin was this alternative progressive machine that reminded me of Porcupine Tree melding with Incubus. Shaun Holton, however, makes music that, while retaining that sound to some extent, leans more heavily into classic rock and pop. His sound might have more soul and grit than ever, though, and I especially love the distorted, relaxed tone of the guitars.
Earth Meet World has ten tracks and 45 minutes of music. I would point out that Shaun will soon also be releasing a 40-track compilation called The Earth World Saga, which includes this new album, as well as his first two records and lots of extra goodies. You will notice his close friends Solar Soma credited on several tracks: another band that I hope makes a comeback soon. Anyways, I would recommend getting the compilation when it releases on November 5th.
I have to admit that I was unsure of my feelings about Earth Meet World when I first heard it. Oh, Shaun sounds fantastic, and the entire album has great production and a catchy feeling to it. I was simply taken aback, I guess, by the new sound. The singles “Migrate” and “Hey Dimmu” are just so good, though, and so I began to understand Shaun’s goals here. “Migrate”, by the way, is a terrific, sauntering track with soulful guitars and a legit groove. “Hey Dimmu”, named after Shaun’s podcast with his wife Antanika, is an emotional and beautiful ode to their life together, not to mention the addictive rhythm at the song’s core that I love so much.
There are some truly great tracks on this album, especially the first three tracks. “Bang!” opens the album with gusto and guitars, and the chorus is honestly pretty complex and memorable. “Low Fidelity Dreamin’” comes next, and is one of my favorites. It has a wistful quality to it with guitars that feel effortless and fluid. I love listening to this song. “Begin” rounds out the opening trio, and this song is more abstract and distorted in sound. It floats and hops around, begging us to slow down and consider the road ahead of us.
I want to highlight a couple more. “Parks Without Trees” feels very much like a Projected Twin song. It is longer and more alternative than the rest of the album, and I love Shaun’s expressive vocals on this one. “Friendly Neighborhood Sadness” is the album closer, and I really like the chorus and the ironic spin of the lyrics. The guitars give a satisfying punch, too, and the sweet drumming near the end is the icing on the cake.
In the end, I’m left hopeful for Shaun’s future. This album, while maybe not as mighty and majestic as his previous two, is a beautiful, personal, and striking effort. It is very much its own thing, a new beginning. Shaun’s voice sounds amazing, to say the least, and the songs are high quality and simply fun to hear. Earth Meet World has all the best intentions and motivations, and I’m hoping that will help Shaun make more and more music in the future.
Find Shaun Holton online: