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The Holmes Brothers - Feed My Soul
14 songs; 49:45 minutes; Splendid
Styles: Soul, Gospel, R & B, Country, Blues
Surrounding the release of this latest Americana CD from the legendary Holmes Brothers, there has been a celebration of joy by their Rootsy fans. Disgruntled Blues purists even have deepest respect for their long careers and harmony. But, amongst the fans’ festivities and back-slapping, it can be like finding a turd in the punchbowl when a naysayer whines there’s not enough Blues content.
Joan Osborne produced the album, which is a scary thought. But her work and added background vocals seemed to conjure top quality sound. Given Brother Wendell’s recent brush with bladder cancer, one might expect this to be a grim set, but this is an open, warm album with lots of variety (just not much Blues). With Wendell's victory over mortality, the songs deal with friendship, loyalty, family, aging, illness, as well as politics and the current state of the world, while still maintaining the Brother’s sense of humor. “Feed My Soul” represents an inspired artistic deepening for Wendell, who wrote seven of the album’s fourteen tracks, and for the trio as a whole, which recorded some of its richest performances for the set.
Over the course of their 30-plus year career, The Holmes Brothers (bassist/vocalist Sherman Holmes, guitarist/pianist/vocalist Wendell Holmes, drummer/vocalist and brother-in-spirit Popsy Dixon) have been providing a competent blend of Gospel, Soul, R&B, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Country, and Blues. Their best quality is the three-part harmony singing, mixing Wendell’s gruff and gravelly vocals with Popsy’s soaring falsetto and Sherman’s rich baritone. Also notable is the rhythmic foundation laid down by Sherman’s bass playing and Popsy’s drumming, nicely complementing Wendell’s Blues based guitar solos and church-inspired piano playing.
Our first spin on the Friends of the Blues Radio Show was the rocking "You're the Kind of Trouble" written by Paul Kennerly, Adam Wright, and Shannon Wright, which originally appearing on Solomon Burke's 2006 release “Nashville.” There’s great humor found in the narrator’s response to an attractive female, “You’re the kind of trouble I could get into!”
The next week, we played a recession Blues number “Edge of the Ledge.” Putting the signature Holmes humor on it, “Edge...” continues the social theme found in the first cut "Dark Cloud," which has commentary in the lyrics, “...when our children start to die, and mothers ask you why//Won't you tell me... where you stand?”
As an old Beatles fan, I had to play another cover in the set, “I'll Be Back” from “A Hard Day's Night.” Here Dixon handles solo lead vocals on a beautiful countrified version of the song.
This week, we’ll play the harmonica laced, Bluesy number “Rounding Third.” Its message is I’m leaving’ you, baby, and I’m gaining speed. I also like the sentiment found in the mid tempo “Put My Foot Down,” which teaches about taking a firm stand, “You’ve got to put your foot down so you can hold your head up.”
If you are a Holmes Brothers fan and do not already have this CD, why not? You will undoubtedly enjoy it as many fans are blogging, “their best work yet!” Indeed, it’s well done American Roots.
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and longtime Blues Blast Magazine contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL
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