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Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors
Album: Souvenir
Label: Magnolia
Tracks: 11

If ever there is an album that fully encompasses the ever-expanding gamut that is the burgeoning americana scene then "Souvenir" has got to be pretty close to being as bang on the money than most. The famed hip-ness surrounding East Nashville is bought into sharp focus on Drew's follow up to 2015's critically acclaimed "Medicine" release, and here is coalesced into something more tangible and real. Here Holcomb and his band the Neighbors expand the musical envelope just a little further.

So you'll get the blatant folk whimsy of "Mama's Sunshine, Daddy's Rain" nestling snugly alongside soft focus acoustic americana "Postcard Memories", and the sun-soaked country rock of "California" in sharp focus to the simple beauty of "Wild World" where picked guitar and keys combine with Drew's plaintive voice to close the album in heart warming style.

The album as a whole is based around themes that will resonate with the listener, family, friends, music, memories, people and places - in effect the human experience through the eyes of the songwriter(s). And "Souvenir" is truly a collaborative team effort with Nathan Dagger and Rich Brinsfield all contributing songs, and astonishingly the final mastered mixes of each song whilst Drew was hospitalised with a rare case of viral meningitis! That trust and dependence on others is key to the album and that shines through in the seemingly effortless flow of music as one song moves smoothly and coherently to another, all beautifully produced with just the right amount of stardust sprinkled at the edges of each tune.

Opener "The Morning Song" awakens the album in lazy harmonious style, the bright jangle of guitar complementing a stunning melody to superfluous effect. "Fight For Love" takes an almost opposite lyrical feel and the song itself veers into roots rock territory, all hooky little guitar licks and punchy singalong chorus. "Black and Blue" sees Holcomb in duet mode with his wife Ellie, and the tale of love seemingly lost from both points of view, with the song building to an impassioned full on electric crescendo.

"Souvenir" is an album that is directed at the heart and is defiantly FROM the heart. It's an album that takes long established narratives, but brings them down to a fiercely personal level. Ally that to quality songwriting and playing and it's an irresistible combination.

Ken Brown