Newly solo indie artist James Hartley is proving that safety in numbers is mere myth, as he offers a sure-fire hit with debut track ‘Amsterdam’.

Indie band Kastella may have recently disbanded but that wasn’t the last we’d hear of their frontman James Hartley. After seemingly ending an era with Kastella to pursue endeavours of their own, this has left Hartley with the ability to focus on his solo career, beginning with our first taste of his new material in the form of ‘Amsterdam’.

Hartley has consciously included past classic inspirations such as indie legends The Verve and Oasis, with a large intention of incorporating influences from the latter’s frontman. No introduction necessary, the ever-iconic Liam Gallagher. Some may perceive it as overly generous to compare Gallagher’s almost untouchable vocal prowess with Hartley’s. However, a similar level of passion and skill can be drawn between the two, and it’s exciting to see Hartley marking the beginning of a new decade within Indie music.  

‘Amsterdam’ is everything you’d expect of a song by Hartley. It’s an upbeat track which yearns for the carefree vibe of Summer and contains the projected dream-like atmosphere of Amsterdam itself. Working with George Fitzgibbon, who you may recognise as fellow indie band Fuzzy Sun’s triple threat was a solid choice. His obvious skills on guitar, keys and backing vocals make him a perfect match for Hartley, as he worked his magic on the production side of the track. Hartley’s songwriting is as beautiful as ever within this number. It fits his velvet vocals well as it is filled with charming lyrics such as “You know I’d give my entire life just to see you smiling one more time”. Mid-track it builds up to an impressive guitar riff. It cuts through the whimsically reminiscent lyrics, cliches and soft instrumentals to draw more attention to the slick playing- which ultimately gives this track it’s edge. The far-flung holiday romance created may have disappeared like the summer leaves on the trees however, Hartley is proving that his future in music is here to stay.

Acclaim for the track has even been certified by Gary Mounfield, of Stone Roses fame. He stated that “Amsterdam is a well-crafted tune with all the best pop sensibilities coupled with a Liam Gallagheresque swagger that only we Northerners can summon up. The future is bright!”. High praise from the man who helped put Manchester’s name on the music map. Mounfield’s reference to the future being ‘bright’ could be viewed as him metaphorically passing the torch to Hartley, as we see where his new musical venture takes us.

Be sure to listen to ‘Amsterdam’ which is available on all major streaming services.

Written by: Camilla Whitfield