The Holmes Brothers
Coming off one of the best releases in the past few years (2002’s Speaking In Tongues), one might expect The Holmes Brothers to maybe experience a bit of a slump. Instead, it’s back to normal for the band on their second release for Alligator, Simple Truths.
Though Joan Osborne is not behind the controls this time (Craig Street, who produced Norah Jones’ Grammy winner last year as well as releases by Chris Whitley, Cassandra Wilson, and Derek Trucks, is the producer this time around), everything is as it was on the previous release --- the soulful arrangements, the heavenly harmonies, and the basic Holmes Brothers mixture of blues, funk, gospel, country and, most of all, deep soul.
Among the 13 songs are nine interesting covers, which include an emotional rendition of Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You,” an energetic take on Bruce Channel’s hit “Hey Baby,” a gritty version of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” a take of Bob Marley’s “Concrete Jungle” that sounds fresh from the Delta flats, Gillian Welch’s “Everything Is Free” (highlighted by Popsy Dixon’s wondrous vocals), and a rowdy cover of “Big Boss Man” (with pedal steel by Greg Leisz).
Wendell Holmes also takes a solo stab (on piano) at Willie Nelson’s “Opportunity To Cry,” with great results.
The original compositions by the Holmes Brothers are just as impressive as their choices in covers, including the superb “We Meet, We Part, We Remember,” which is four minutes of pure soul just like they used to do it.
“You Won’t Be Living Here Anymore”, a rocker with country-based lyrics by Wendell Holmes, is another highlight.
The disc begins to wrap up with a cover of “He’ll Have To Go,” which has more of those angelic three-part harmonies, and closes with Sherman Holmes’ stark, mournful “I’m So Lonely.”
The Holmes Brothers have met, and quite possibly exceeded their own high standards with Simple Truths. Don't miss this one.
--- Graham Clarke
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