Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
A Rootsy Road Trip to Make Your Heart Sing and Your Soul Stir.
Drew Holcomb already had 7 releases under his belt when I first heard and reviewed Good Light in 2013; and that long apprenticeship at the coal face of Rock and Roll is still paying off with this, his ninth album in 12 long years.
My reviews always begin with the first track; simply because that is where listeners begin and I believe should give you a ‘feel’ for what is to follow. It doesn’t have to be the most commercial or indeed, ‘best in show’; but one way or another it should grab your attention.
In this case, on The Morning Song the opening couple of lines from a world weary and love lorn Holcomb not only ‘grab your attention’ but punch you in your heart and spin your brain…..like a flaming arrow from Eros.
“I want to make love after midnight/and fall asleep in your arms” and “Let’s dance like drunk sailors/like angels and jailbirds” take my breath away every time I hear them; plus…..well, you have to hear the song yourself to understand why I keep pressing repeat and wiping salty tears from the corner of my eyes.
Even if the team of Holcomb, Brinsfield & Dugger never ever write another song; they can all sit back and say “I wrote that.”
Comfortably straddling Alt. Country, Folk and Classic Country the Memphis/East Nashville hybrid that is Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors have never sounded finer than on the sorrowful Rowdy Heart/Broken Wing and Postcard Memories, with its’ wailing harmonica intro and Dew’s quivering voice delivering two songs fully laced with a brittle poignancy.
I must make it clear at this junction that this isn’t a ‘sad album’….not by a country mile; especially with the inclusion of the jaunty Mama’s Sunshine, Daddy’s Rain (possibly about a child or a lover…..but could actually be about me!) and the spine tingling love song Yellow Rose of Santa Fe; but quite a few songs are deep enough to make you really think about the contents.
The piano driven duet between Drew and wife Ellie Holcomb Black & Blue is almost ‘Beat Poetry’ over a late night Jazz melody; and is one of the many delightful surprises SOUVENIR keep throwing up.
For the accolade of ‘favourite track’ it’s obviously the opener The Morning Song; but album closer Wild World runs it a very close second. Again we find Holcomb at the piano and his warm leathery voice sounds on the edge of breaking as he delivers what at first sounds like a doleful and deeply thoughtful view on the world we now find ourselves in; but as he says “It’s a wild world/ but there ain’t no way I’m gonna quit it/Love is all I’ve got to give away.” Again; even if Drew Holcomb only ever wrote this song, he could die an incredibly proud man.
While everything here revolves around Drew Holcomb’s distinctive and expressive voice; this is very much a team effort from the song writing through the production to the tightly wrapped way the band perform behind the singer.
Congratulations all around.
Released March 24th 2017