Rick Holmstrom has garnered a reputation as a very fine soul/gospel guitarist, with an exceptional feel for the music in the past several years while recording and touring with Mavis Staples. At the same time his songwriting has also matured, whether it is because he has been in the company of the likes of Neko Case and Jeff Tweedy or just a natural growth, who knows. The why isn't important, it is that these changes have occurred, and the resultant music that resonates at a deeper level. On this recording all twelve songs are either written or co-written by Mr. Holmstrom. He plays all the slide guitar and he is accompanied on this disc by Jeff Tumes playing electric and acoustic bass, saxophone, backing vocals and Stephen Hodges on drums and percussion. On two cuts, Owe You Everything, and Lord Please, Mavis Staples takes the vocals.
This is Rick Holmstrom's sixth solo album, and he has shifted his focus from blues and jazz with a bit of rock to more of a continuation of his work with Staples, venturing much more into the soul blues category with that ever present special gospel touch. Kind of an odd place to wind up for a kid born and raised in Alaska, however, his father was a disc jockey and exposed him to Chuck Berry and Little Richard at an early age. For the record this review is for Cruel Sunrise and there is also a Deluxe Edition that has a second disc of all instrumentals. Aside from the tunes with Mavis who adds that unique soul to anything her voice touches there is an abundance of guitar that simply drips with that special feel he has. Some people have it and some don't and Rick Holmstrom has it oozing from his fingertips for all to hear. A heart felt record all the way through.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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