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Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors
Album: Souvenir
Label: Magnolia
Tracks: 11
Holding a Masters degree in Springsteen and American Redemptive Imagination, Memphis-born roots-rock singer-songwriter Holcomb was last on the radar a couple of year back with Medicine, a breakthrough album that openly wore his Springsteen and Petty influences. However, the immediate comparison that comes to mind on the sexually charged slow burn opener, 'The Morning Song', is Van Morrison.

Elsewhere, however, the more familiar reference points hold sway, Petty particularly so on 'Fight For Lov'e, a punchy mid-tempo with ringing guitars, harmonica and anthemic chorus apparently recorded in the immediate aftermath of the Trump election, although it's not a political statement as such it has a thematic kinship with the closing track, 'Wild World', where, recorded live with just guitar and piano backing (as well the sound of a passing ambulance), he sings about the need for love and unity..

'California' is an uptempo drive along rocker that serves as a tribute to the Golden Coast, but, with the exception of the banjo-scratched jug band good time shuffle 'Mama's Sunshine, Daddy's Rain', presumably a love letter to his daughter, pretty much everything else is taken at a more reflective, slower pace. The Dylanish 'New Year' chugs along on a puttering drum machine rhythm with a lyric about estranged brothers while the introspective 'Rowdy Heart, Broken Wing' is pared back to just acoustic guitar and his dusty warble.

As well as the opening number, guitarist/pianist Nathan Dugger and bassist Rich Brinsfield also collaborated with Holcomb in penning two other songs, the folksy fingerpicked and harmonica coloured 'Postcard Memories' and, backed by a chugging guitar. 'Black and Blue', another touch of Petty, is an increasingly plangent love song duet between Holcomb and wife Ellie. Dugger and Brinsfield also get their own solo writing credits. The latter contributes the piano-led 'Sometimes', a slow swayer about how it's okay to be alone and let go of the past, and from whence the album title comes, that has a hint of Lennon about it. As the title might suggest, Dugger's 'The Yellow Rose of Santa Fe' is firmly old school country (Willie Nelson comes to mind), its memories of an old flame served with generous helpings of pedal steel and twang, one that suggests he should take up the pen more often.

Reflective, but positive, it's essentially about love in its many forms, physical, geographic, tragic and rewarding, but always about connecting people on their journeys. One that it invites you to share.

Mike Davies