Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Excellent new Holmes Brothers CD

The Holmes Brothers new Alligator album, State of Grace, is another solid disc by brothers Wendell and Sherman Holmes and drummer Popsy Dixon. Listening to this disc, like most of their recordings, one gets a mix of soulful R&B, gospel, country and blues which certainly transcends simple labeling of the trio as a blues group, a term that becomes increasingly meaningless but also one that does disservice to them. There are some choice originals like Sherman Holmes wonderful country soul ballad, Close the Door, and remakes of pop classics such as Nick Lowe’s (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding. Wendell Holmes handles the lazy southern funk of Gasoline Drawers. Rosanne Cash joins Wendell on a lovely rendition of Hank Williams’ I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You, with some lovely mandolin from Larry Campbell behind the very heartful vocals. Glenn Patscha adds accordion and Campbell is on fiddle to add some cajun flavor to a lively rendition of John Fogerty’s Bad Moon Rising, while Popsy Dixon handles the vocal on Glenn Patscha’s Three Gray Walls, a terrific song that sounds like a classic R&B song from the pre-Beatles period. Joan Osborne takes the vocal joined by the Brothers on Those Memories of You, another soulful reworking of a country song, while Levon Helm joins in for I’ve Just Seen the Rock of Ages. Other delights include Sherman’s interpretation of he soulful-folk of Lyle Lovett’s If I Had a Boat, Wendell’s handling of George Jones’ Ain’t It Funny What a Fool Will Do, and his own Standing in the Need of Love, a strong blues original with a strong guitar solo from him as well, and the closing rendition of Lyle Lovett’s God Will where Popsy is at the forefront. The album displays the attention to good songs, solid musicianship where there is a recognition that understatement is often a virtue and marvelous singing that has been the hallmark of The Holmes Brothers recordings for the past few decades. This terrific disc is easily recommended even if difficult to classify as fitting within any particular genre.

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