After years of playing guitar in metal bands overseas and moonlighting as a DJ and producer in New York’s underground house scene, Justin Hill found himself looking for a new musical outlet. Inspired to create something new, Justin launched Dutch, a new kind of solo project that looks to blur the lines between hip-hop, alternative RnB, and emotional rock. Layering his expressive new style with honest, introspective lyrics about depression and loss, and a raw vocal delivery that has become something of a trademark edge, Dutch has placed his talents firmly in the spotlight.
His debut album under the new moniker is ‘Learning How To Lie’, a conceptual album that dives fearlessly into the more human aspects of music, casting a bright light upon the emotions and moments that inspire it.
Album opener ‘Ceiling Staring’ sets the journey in motion, bringing to the fore a series of passionate vocals and transient tones that form a moving backdrop for Justin’s emotive lyrics based on desperation and self-reflection. It’s a raw, honest track that perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album, setting the stage for what’s to come.
Tracks such as ‘661’ and ‘Up In Smoke’ up the tempo while keeping the emotional honesty, offering a more energised and almost optimistic flow that is locked into place by the heavy beats and digital flickers of the emo revival gripping rock and hip-hop. ‘First Time (Goodbye)’ arrives as a massive track of lavish orchestration and choir of vocals that sweep into focus and bring a wave of musical warmth. It’s expansive, vibrant, and carries a distinct punk-edge that channels the anger of the song perfectly.
Fifth track ‘Disappear’ carries the personal theme of the album forward with even greater dedication, mixing thoughts of isolation, anger, hate, and confusion, with an eclectic mix of strings, bass, and uncompromising, distant beats. The album comes to a close with a cataclysmic trilogy of songs that build hope and fight against the darkness of the earlier cuts, creating a brilliant contrast that moves the overarching narrative of the album forward towards better days. ‘The Contender’ rings with a lightness and vibrancy that has been missing so far on the album, while ‘Welcome home’ is melodic to the core, layering simply, but wonderfully effective guitar work with a deft electronic beat and a tour de force vocal performance.
It all sets the stage for ‘Wont Let Go’, the closing track of throughout atmospherics and immediate, impressive magnitude. Acting as a cleansing anthem that permeates the previously troubled waters of the album, ‘Wont Let Go’ leaves with you a real sense of triumph, reflecting the hardships, the losses, and the obstacles that have been overcome along the length of the album. It’s an uplifting end, one that rounds the album out in brilliant form, galvanising the connection that you can’t help but form with Justin throughout ‘Learning How To Lie’.
To begin with, ‘Learning How To Lie’ can be a confronting listening, and it takes a few tracks to really become comfortable with the rough, honest nature in which Justin tackle and speaks about his demons. It’s the bravery and passion that he shows that really seals the deal for you, and every time you revisit the album, you’ll undoubtedly find a new line or hook that you can connect with. By bearing his own emotions so completely, Justin has managed to make one of this year’s most captivating and relatable releases, and for that, we have to thank him.
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