Sunday, 18 August 2013

Drew Holcomb & the Neigbours - Good Light Magnolia Music

It doesn’t take too long to get into the DNA of Drew Holcomb, just listen to the lyrics of ‘Tennessee’, the lead single and stand out track of his latest album GOOD LIGHT. Being raised in the western extremes of the state didn’t do him any harm, as it doesn’t any budding musician growing up in music soaked Memphis, and now residing in the creative hotspot of East Nashville means the full force of the volunteer state’s musical heritage flows through his veins.

Like so much of Nashville’s output outside music row, Drew Holcomb opens his heart to a wide range of influences from rock, country, soul and blues. The added spice of Drew’s own singer-song writing acumen ensures this album is as representative of the current alt-country Americana scene as you are likely to come across. GOOD LIGHT almost saunters into easy listening territory when first unveiled to your ears yet possesses an unyielding substance to ensure it’s no quick fix.

Weighing in at 44 minutes and twelve songs, the album is Drew’s sixth effort and prior to its August 26th UK release has gained much critical acclaim in his native US. His touring and recording band The Neighbours also includes his wife Ellie but she is currently scaling down her involvement to pursue other musical and family interests so when Drew hopefully brings the record to the UK in the New Year there may be an altered line up. What listeners will get from the live and recorded versions of GOOD LIGHT are articulate lyrics, clear constructed songs and generally classic organic singer-songwriter fare.

Drew’s lengthy association with many leading lights of this type of music such as John Hiatt, Ryan Adams, Avett Brothers and Robert Earl Keen has clearly had a positive impact. The general leaning is towards the slightly toned up ballad interspersed with numbers such as the jaunty ‘I Love You, I Do’, breezy album opener ‘Another Man’s Shoes’ , the harmonica laced blues/rock-style title track ‘Good Light’ and the soulful  ‘Nothing Like a Woman’. However whether its these sound interpretations, the tender duet ‘The Wine We Drink’ or slightly sombre closing number ‘Tomorrow’, which does cling onto a little hope, the result is a similarly satisfying close-on four minute listening experience.

‘I was born here and raised here and I’ll make my grave here’ is the line from the excellent ‘Tennessee’ that probably defines the album. Drew Holcomb has taken advantage of living and breathing the state’s finest gift to the world – its music, and feels humble enough to commit this admiration to song with the added ingredient of a little bit of essential pedal steel. There has been many a song title referencing the state spanning the Mississippi to the Smoky Mountains and this effort ranks commendably with the best of them.

GOOD LIGHT is an album worthy of accessing, scrutinising and ultimately enjoying. Drew Holcomb may be absorbing the influences of others but it surely won’t be long until it’s vice versa and this still relatively young singer-songwriter will be laying down the markers for future generations.

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