166

The Holmes Brothers: State of Grace

Chris M. Slawecki By

Sign in to view read count
Wendell Holmes plays guitar, piano and sings, and Sherman Holmes plays bass and sings. When Popsy Dixon joins on drums and vocals, this trio transforms into the Holmes Brothers, the Blues Foundation's 2005 Band of the Year. Their three-part harmonies are honeyed country gospel, but their front-stoop funk and dark, broken-hearted tales are pure country blues.

The Holmes Brothers make every song they sing sound gospel sacred and gutbucket funky. Look no further for an example than Wendell's twelve-bar electric blues "Standing in the Need of Love. He leads this pained blue moan with guitar playing that strips off sheets of raw, primitive sound, each layer revealing new depths of anguish like a scabbed wound, while Popsy and Sherman offer comfort with sweet vocal harmonies: Elmore James meets The Impressions.

The Brothers also present a collection of cover material that comprises roadhouse Americana, drawn from Hank Williams, Sr., George Jones, John Fogerty, Nick Lowe, Lyle Lovett and other genuinely great songwriters. Several of these covers almost supernaturally transubstantiate the original material. "Bad Moon Rising genuinely cooks as a hot Cajun griller, a bayou two-step, while "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding snuggles comfortably in warm country-knit acoustic and pedal steel guitar. "I Want You to Want Me, Rick Nielsen's ode to throbbing teen lust for Cheap Trick, slows all the way down into a reverential, transcendent hymn, almost a prayer.

Roseanne Cash takes Wendell's hand to stroll with him down the memory lane of Williams' "I Can't Help It if I'm Still in Love With You, and Joan Osbourne steps out to front a raucous "Those Memories of You, rampaging and soaring toward the spirit of Janis Joplin. State of Grace also marks the return to recording of Levon Helm (of The Band) since his recovery from throat cancer; Helm plays drums on "Three Grey Walls and handles snare drum and mandolin (as well as vocals) on "I've Just Seen the Rock of Ages in a voice vulnerable on the edge of quivering, high and wraithlike, cast in all the haunted emotion of this gospel spiritual.


Track Listing: Smiling Face Hiding a Weeping Heart; Close the Door; (What

Personnel: Wendell Holmes: vocals, guitar; Sherman Holmes, vocals, bass; Popsy Dixon: vocals, drums, percussion; Glenn Patscha: organ, piano, guitar, vocals, accordion; Larry Campbell: mandolin, pedal steel, fiddle; Byron Isaacs: upright bass, vocals; Catherine Russell: vocals; Roseanne Cash: vocals; John Leventhal: guitar; Levon Helm: drums, snare drum, mandolin, vocals; Amy Helm: vocals; Fiona McBain: vocals; Joan Osborne: vocals; Chris Bruce: guitar; Craig Street: guitar; Colby Rose Street: vocals.

Title: State of Grace | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Alligator Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Dedication CD/LP/Track Review Dedication
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Surface of Inscription CD/LP/Track Review Surface of Inscription
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 21, 2017
Read The Treasury Shows, Vol. 24 CD/LP/Track Review The Treasury Shows, Vol. 24
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Aleka CD/LP/Track Review Aleka
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Alto Gusto CD/LP/Track Review Alto Gusto
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Flow CD/LP/Track Review Flow
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 20, 2017
Read "Eka" CD/LP/Track Review Eka
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "Hank Mobley" CD/LP/Track Review Hank Mobley
by Greg Simmons
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "Ripple" CD/LP/Track Review Ripple
by Bob Kenselaar
Published: November 29, 2016
Read "Unfiltered Universe" CD/LP/Track Review Unfiltered Universe
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 6, 2017
Read "Rumbler" CD/LP/Track Review Rumbler
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 2, 2017
Read "My Tongue Crumbles After" CD/LP/Track Review My Tongue Crumbles After
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 1, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor