Holy Pinto are from Canterbury, England, and are a soft indie pop band led by singer/songwriter Aymen Saleh. The duo have been touring and living life non-stop since the release of their first EP Congratulations, and are here with more music. Congratulations told the story of huge life decisions, involving Aymen’s personal choices of maintaining relationships or chasing the dream of being a musician. Following on from this, their second EP Tales from the Travelling T-Shirt Salesman tells the story after Aymen has made this decision, and is following the dream. The title says it all, as the EP follows a man travelling the world, playing songs, and selling shirts. Not having heard of them before, I was immediately drawn in by Holy Pinto’s soft vocals and melodic instrumentals, and because of this I couldn’t resist getting stuck into the new EP, Tales from the Travelling T-Shirt Salesman.
“Gold Leaf” takes us by the hand and welcomes us to the record, speaking softly as if to not scare us off. The lightly tuned instrumentals and very smooth vocals feel like a comfy chair, as you sink in and don’t feel like moving. All you can do is sit there and listen to the story that is being told.
The song touches on relationships, distance, and wanting to make the most of life while being held back by the concern of letting people down. It also speaks of sacrifice, as a lost love is mourned by Aymen. Regret and sadness run underneath the surface, as there is a sense of self awareness that he has brought this upon himself. Giving up this feeling of bliss is overwhelming, and smoking is one of the only reliefs he allows himself. Selfish thoughts, poor decisions, and the lacking ability of commitment are evident reasons behind the sadness involved in the track, given that Aymen appears to have chosen music over relationships. A choice which can’t have been easy, since feelings are obviously still evident between the two. “Gold Leaf” perfectly contrasts the feelings of love, and freedom, and how conflicting this can be when making big life decisions.
“I’ll buy you flowers from a petrol station,
just to prove that I miss your touch.
You say you still love my music,
but I go away too much.”
“Salt” starts very upbeat, with the fun wholesome instrumentals taking me away straight away. Now I’m walking on a beach wearing crocs and doing some weird hip dance. The funky instrumentals put a smile on my face, which is good because the song itself is quite sad. Speaking of nostalgia, friendship, and growing up, it is a tale of looking back on life and its experiences, particularly those involving old friends.
Friendships are something we all cherish, and the memories we make with friends stay with us forever. This song speaks of the sadness on losing those friendships over time. The decline can begin fast as distance and time become factors, and people can become enemies more than friends. “Salt” reminds us that this is natural, these things happen, and hostility isn’t necessarily the way to respond to this. Aymen shows a sense of resentment towards this process, but is still able to reminisce happily.
The sadness is overarching throughout the whole song, but there is also a slight fondness towards the memories he discusses. It is as if he sits back in a chair, closes his eyes, smiles, and takes us on a journey thorough his mind. The memories flash by as we see friends hanging out, laughing together and crying together. They are enjoying what is the blissful youth of friendship, before life gets in the way. Losing these friendships after all of this is hard, and picking up the pieces, taking the high ground, and moving on, is something that needs to be done.
“Won’t you take me back to the time when I had some style.
I rocked a bowtie on New Years Eve.
We stepped outside to contemplate our futures.
Now living well is the best revenge.”
“Bitter Enemies” couldn’t be any more of a fitting song title, as it describes the different mindsets a person can have. These mindsets are described as if they are different people, both of which absolutely despise the other. The guitar is mesmerising throughout the song, a sneaky mood setter for the insecure piece of metaphorical song-writing.
Aymen describes himself and his dark thoughts as if they are different people, touching on all of his own personal insecurities and fears through this. He blames it all on this purely metaphorical being, and does so in a very beautiful manner.
“I am red, I am passion, I’m sunset, I’m anger, blood and wine.”
“You are armies, lust, murder and all the brutal things combined.”
This is an incredible insight into the mind behind the lyrics, as it is symbolic of a never ending mental battle with oneself. The insecurities that are constantly nagging away at the brain, the nagging worrying thoughts that never seem to end, they can all take over at times. They are also warded away by the good thoughts, and the happiness. The smiles. The dark thoughts, this negative persona, doesn’t know him at all, as its only purpose is to ruin every ounce of joy he gets. The never-ending battle is reminiscent of the fight between good and evil in general, and in this song produces some great lyrical content.
The fourth track is titled “Very Adult” and is a fun upbeat track about growing up. It expresses the uncertainty of big life decisions, and the intimidation that comes with all of this. But despite this is expresses the importance of having a positive mindset throughout this and enjoying life for what it is. The fast fun instrumentals keep with the mood of the song, as the increased pace matches the uncertain reckless vibes sent through the lyrics.
It also touches on the insecurity felt when Aymen decided to embrace the musician lifestyle, and how close he came to giving up the dream to get a real job. How lucky we are that he didn’t, cause if that had happened no doubt we wouldn’t get to listen to this instrumentally wholesome and lyrically fulfilling release. It takes us in a tight embrace and reminds us that the whole world is in front of us. Don’t overthink things, because the world is our oyster and we can all do whatever we want.
“But you could be anything, and I could be anyone. So lets not ruin this by thinking too much.”
“King” is the final track, and discusses an ongoing defiant battle with authoritative figures. It is largely about backing yourself, and not giving up your beliefs easily. It also starts off slower than other track, focusing even moreso than the other tracks on the vocals and slower guitar patterns. Before going into fast, almost rocky, instrumentals. These signify the changing in mood as Aymen realises he needs to rise above those that are trying to hold him down. He knows what is best for him and follows that.
The whole track could also be reflective of the ongoing mental doubts he has to do with following his music career, and the authority figure is one inside his head telling him the proper thing to do. He knows what he wants and backs himself to do it and to follow through.
“You’ll be the one kicking and screaming, because I’m right.”
As I’m listening to this I can notice myself filming a music video for it inside my head, which seems unusual. As the song begins slowly I am picturing Aymen sitting in an old wooden chair playing guitar and singing. This is only until the more punk beats kick in and he jumps out of the chair and goes out into the world. He goes around and does everything the song says he does, as it often refers to the day to day life of the songs protagonist. Now he’s standing in a field, closing out the track in a beautiful and colourful setting. These are the kind of images that this music projects, and its fantastic.
Tales from the Travelling T-shirt Salesman is a stellar release, full of wholesomely beautiful instrumentals and soft soothing vocals. The lyrical content varies, taking you through sadness, regret, nostalgia, excitement, happiness, and anger, all in the one EP. Its a very soft alternative release and is easy listening, but sitting down and listening closer makes it even better. It is 100% worth a look and is released on June 22nd.
Beautiful songwriting which touches on different themes. Emotive instrumentally. Easy listening but still thoroughly emotionally enjoyable.