Creativity often emerges unexpectedly from mistakes and disappointments. “My Little Fight,” the latest single from English folk singer-songwriter and Berklee College of Music alum, Joe Holt, is the inspired result of several wrong turns.
When drummer and producer, Caleb Barnett, returned to New York to record Holt’s upcoming LP after a show in Mexico, he was missing his cymbals, which had been lost by the airline. To make do, Holt, Caleb, and his brother Ben created placeholder drums using low-quality MIDI instruments. However, after a small mistake quantizing these drums, Holt and the Barnett Brothers ended up with a grooving halftime beat, which ultimately became the driving force behind “My Little Fight.”
An airline’s blunder inspired Holt to ditch entirely the “train” beat he had planned to include throughout his album, moving away from predictable singer-songwriter tropes toward something more authentic and interesting.
The melody of the song was similarly born from disappointment. After driving nearly six hours from New York City to Williamsburg, Virginia for a show, Holt learned that his show had been cancelled due to bad weather. Only 25 minutes away from his destination, Holt was forced to turn around and head home. In order to kill time, he began to think through some melodies and recorded a voice memo of what would become the verse of “My Little Fight.” Before this aborted road trip, the song had what Holt described as a “really bad, ineffective melody.” Now, it is one of the song’s greatest strengths.
The song itself is a hopeful, yet self-deprecating, look inward at Holt’s struggle to identify with and love himself. Painfully aware of his own flaws and how his self-doubt harms his relationships with others, Holt searches throughout the song for assurance that he is not the same as he used to be, diagnosing his shortcomings in order to find a way to live up to his aspirations.
Simultaneously playful, insecure, and determined, Holt’s lyrics move from moments of existential self-doubt to confessions about his sub-par commitment to recycling, with vocals that bring to mind a younger version of fellow Englishman Guy Garvey of Elbow.
With “My Little Fight,” Holt provides a mature and conversational self-analysis while managing to keep things fun and not take himself too seriously. The result is an authentic and relatable piece of music that avoids the traps of cookie-cutter singer-songwriting.
Listen to “My Little Fight” below, and keep an eye out for Joe Holt’s upcoming album, tentatively titled The Person I Admire.