Sunday, 11 January 2015

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors - Medicine : Magnolia Music

With the perfect remedy to deal with the trials and tribulations of life, Drew Holcomb reveals his own tonic in the release of the new album MEDICINE. A record smoothed around the edges without any extended polishing, it has proved the ideal project for Holcomb to take stock of his ten year recording period and reflect where his career lies. Following the promotion of his previous album GOOD LIGHT in 2013, he is beginning to make inroads into the UK market and MEDICINE is packed with credentials to continue this successful penetration. Literate to its core and explicit in its presentation, the album is a positive thread of masterful song writing, with music to match the mood of the sentiments.

Once again Drew has enlisted the services of his band The Neighbors (oh to have common transatlantic spellings) and the twelve tracks ebb and flow through the emotions of life. Each track takes its place in a divergent collection that occasionally varies in tone but is consistent in classy artistry. Three songs make a very strong case to illuminate the album including a wise choice to open proceedings with the elegant and finesse blessed number ‘American Beauty’. This reflective love song is symbolic of the stance of the album which tackles common themes in a profound way highlighted by a strong vocal presence decorating each track. The adjective ‘strong’ can also apply to the melody attaching itself to the excellent rock overtures composition ‘Shine Like Lightning’ and another example of the streak of positivity that is even present in the more sombre numbers. This trio of early stand out candidates is completed by the epic strains of ‘The Last Thing We Do’ and its rallying call attributes.

For an artist entrenched in the creative hub of East Nashville and schooled on sophisticated Americana rock, Drew is at perfect ease of where he wants to be and is humble at being given the opportunity to earn his crust making records on his own terms. The tender moments such as the twang infused ‘Heartbreak’ and the sensitive piano ballad ‘You’ll Always Be My Girl’ sit comfortably alongside more ratcheted up tunes like ‘Sisters Brothers’, the latter a bouncy protest style effort with some serious guitar work leading a brash call for unity. On the topic of effective musical interludes, no Americana album is complete these days without a dose of soulful organ and ‘Ain’t Nobody Got It Easy’ duly provides on this record.

All twelve tracks have their source in the pen of Holcomb with the second gear subtleties of ‘Avalanche’ being the only co-write and a super little song interpreted to be about succumbing to love. Accessing Drew’s thoughts online about the making and make up of MEDICINE makes fascinating reading as well as perusing the lyrics yourself. ‘When It’s All Said and Done’ is an appropriate song to close the album and is befitting of this status. Other tracks worthy of mention include the whistling, optimistically sounding number ‘I've Got You’ and the core theme of using the medicine of music being exalted in ‘Here We Go’. The remaining song ‘Tightrope’ sits neatly at number 2 in the track listings and exemplifies the compulsive clarity of the album.

The UK has another opportunity to catch Drew Holcomb live shortly and no doubt those active music followers who pop along to his shows will share in the immense pride gained in recording this album. If just supporting Drew by acquiring the record is your only avenue, then you will be exposing yourself to an artist true to the belief in the soul of the song and equally as impressive in composing a soundtrack to bring these songs to fruitful enjoyment. This is one MEDICINE that is a joy to swallow. 

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