Home is Where Holcomb’s Heart Is
Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors is the kind of band you root for. Working steadily for the last decade, the band has found themselves heard on television shows like Army Wives or The United States of Tara, but has mostly built a following the old-fashioned way: recording and touring. Having released nine albums in as many years has made them prolific, and nonstop touring—Ryan Adams, Susan Tedeschi, Los Lobos among many others have been tourmates—has given them the sound and experience of old road-dogs, despite being only in their early thirties. The band is tight with a strong sense of their particular brand of folk-rock. On Medicine, their latest release, Holcomb digs his heels in deep. “This is what we do,” he seems to be saying, his stern, bearded countenance staring out at you from the cover art. “And we do it well.”
And that’s their message on the uplifting track “Shine Like Lightning,” where they promise themselves a bright future. Drew Holcomb does not seem to be a man who wants to dwell in darkness. Most songs are celebratory or appreciative, humble and earnest, and occasionally show a dash of regret. His values are for his home and family – universal themes often teetering on the edge of hokey, but held back from falling over by his sincerity.
Medicine spends more time on breezy love ballads than past albums. “Avalanche,” “Heartbreak,” “You’ll Always Be My Girl,” and “I’ve Got You” offer an earthy romanticism. Acoustic guitars, piano, and a plaintive voice give these songs a lived-in comfort. A rallying cry is attempted with “Sisters and Brothers,” and while the music slinks along invitingly, the lyrics leave us unclear on what we’re rallying for. The song has an incompleteness to it, like it should possess a greater urgency, only evident because of the whole satisfaction in each other track. “Ain’t Nobody Got It Easy” is perhaps the missing piece to “Sisters and Brothers.” Uncomplicated and almost mournful with soft organ and slide guitar, the song achieves the heartfelt understanding missed earlier.
Spinning Medicine is much like spinning earlier albums by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. You won’t rock out. You won’t dance your ass off. You won’t feel momentarily invincible. Instead, you’ll feel something far more valuable: a peacefulness and security that comes with buying into Holcomb’s dangerously hokey themes. If you have a place to call home and people to love, you have the world.