There's a lot of noise going around comparing this guy to the likes of Steve Earle, Bruce Springsteen, and etc., but I have a far better analogue: Tom Cochrane & Red Rider. Drew Holcomb sings like him, writes like him, and has the same feisty spirit as Cochrane…and thank Christ someone's following the path 'cause John Cougar Mellencamp sure ain't cuttin' it nor are Mellencamp's wannabe's.
Though he rose in fame and fortune, Cochrane's true powers have never been properly analyzed, especially not for the killer Neruda album; thus, Holcomb's work might just suffer a bit in the same way in the crit realm as well. Both have taken several archetypes and blended them into a unique sound vividly retaining all influences and advancing them…but not too far, and that's the key. This marvelous blend of folk, country rock, soft rock, plain ol' rock, and jangly guitar musics prefers to stay within its time and sing to the present audience, not the future. The stories are everyday and remain in the here and now while peering just around the corner:
Her blue eyes sting deepest when the sun goes down
That's Love is Magic, whence the CD title is also drawn (from a further stanza), the center of the disc and exultant in its instrumentation and vocals. Wife Ellie Holcomb doubles up on background vocals, dueting beautifully on Heartache Heartbreak, beside three gents providing a well-integrated sound bedding Drew firmly in lush rock orchestrations proceeding with grace ("Lonely Anna", etc.) and energy (a whole buncha cuts). Passenger Seat is a solid release, no mediocre fare here, and infused with passion but always dignified and sympathetic amid the wrack and ruin of the human experience. Radio material? Oh hell yes, but also transcendent of norms, landing squarely in a position flattering the fare while walking each one to its own virtues.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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