Infused with plenty of the kind of throbbing beats and insistent melodies that wouldn't sound out of place on one of his many Hollywood soundtrack projects, David Holmes' new album 'The Holy Pictures' also sees him take a step into virgin musical and thematic territory. This time, as well as supplying the beats and tunes, Holmes sings and writes lyrics for a set of songs about personal themes.

Click here to read our interview with David Holmes.

As Holmes himself puts it: "The story of this album really began on 4 August, 1996, when my mother, Sarah Holmes, passed away. I had always wanted to make a record about my life in Belfast and all the little things attached to that - family, friends, loss, love and starting a family of my own. All the stuff that shapes the person you become."

It is a somewhat unexpected departure in that we might typically expect music about these subjects to come from a different source and genres. I suppose on reflection, though, that it makes sense to expect the more talented DJ and dance pioneers to work successfully with more serious and reflective themes as they grow a little older.

Either way, the result of this particular marriage of the DJ/producer's sense for sound and the new elements is refreshing and exciting.

Is it dee-jayed up rock music or... something else? In the end, it doesn't really matter. On balance, there's plenty here for lovers of beats who enjoy the sound of a gifted musician creating with modern techniques, but just as much for those who like a 'song' to be just that (and could, perhaps, do with taking a few more chances with their choices).

'The Holy Pictures' opens with the cracking 'I Heard Wonders'; an exuberant, joyful celebration tinged with a slight sense of sadness. One of the three or four exceptional tracks on the album.

The album hits another high with track five, 'Holy Pictures'; a Stone Roses-esque anthem where Holmes talent as a producer meshes perfectly with the songwriting and lyrics.

There is more of a dance/sonic experimentation feel to some of the other tracks, with Holmes taking a melody or beat and holding on to it; layering it, building it up and breaking it back down ('Story of the Ink', 'Theme/I.M.C', 'Melanie' and 'Hey Maggy').

Towards the end, 'The Holy Pictures' shifts into a more reflective gear. Track nine (of 10), 'Birth', slows things down nicely and introduces a gentler feel.

It is then followed by the album's third highlight, the beautiful 'Ballad of Sarah and Jack'. This instrumental elegy is a special melody and arrangement in which you can really hear and feel the care and respect that has gone into the making of it and it finishes the emotional journey on exactly the right note.

Brendan Cole