The Holmes Brothers – Simple Truths (2004)

The Holmes Brothers - Simple Truths (2004)
Artist: The Holmes Brothers
Album: Simple Truths
Label: Alligator Records
Year Of Release: 2004
Quality: FLAC (tracks+.cue)

01. Run Myself Out Of Town (3:26)
02. Shine (3:14)
03. We Meet, We Part, We Remember (3:56)
04. If I Needed You (3:40)
05. Hey Baby (4:02)
06. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (4:52)
07. Everything Is Free (5:08)
08. Big Boss Man (2:53)
09. Opportunity To Cry (3:35)
10. Concrete Jungle (5:27)
11. You Won’t Be Livin’ Here Anymore (3:10)
12. He’ll Have To Go (3:01)
13. I’m So Lonely (4:40)


The return to CD of New York’s favorite sons, the Holmes Brothers, is a welcome one. Indeed, while fans know what to expect — a killer mélange of soul, blues, gospel, and funk — those combinations are always surprising. Sherman and Wendell Holmes and drummer/vocalist Popsy Dixon have opted to work with producer Craig Street (Cassandra Wilson, Joe Henry, Me’Shell NdegéOcello) this time out and enlist a few guests in the guise of pedal steel boss Greg Leisz, bassist David Pilch from the Bill Frisell Band, guitarist Chris Bruce, and the inimitable Patrick Warren on pump organ. The program is one of the most adventurous the band has ever attempted on record, but all of these songs become vehicles for the rootsy, sweet, and deeply emotional Holmes Brothers treatment. The covers are revelatory in scope, including easily the most moving read of Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You” ever committed to tape. But it doesn’t stop there; they give a similar — albeit rowdier — treatment to Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” In addition, the band covers Willie Nelson’s classic “Opportunity to Cry” and Gillian Welch’s “Everything Is Free” in a late-night fireplace version that makes the songwriter’s version sound clinical. But before one gets the idea that this is the Holmes Brothers’ disc, a Delta blues-styled reading of Bob Marley’s “Concrete Jungle” and a smoking, roiling, bluesed-out two-step version of the Smith and Dixon R&B stalwart “Big Boss Man” should put those assumptions to rest. But it’s Sherman and Wendell’s songs that bring the most satisfaction. Wendell’s “We Meet, We Part, We Remember” is the greatest pure soul tune recorded thus far in the 21st century. With its Impressions-styled chorus and its James Carr cadence it rips the skin off. His rollicking electric country blues number “You Won’t Be Livin’ Here Anymore” sounds like an urban garage version of “Big River,” and the deep blue Mississippi Delta chamber song “I’m So Lonely” by Sherman closes the record on a mournful whisper that underscores the transcendent message in all Holmes Brothers outings: that no matter who they are and what their circumstances are, people share one great desire, to be loved just for who they are. Sound syrupy? Sound hopelessly out of touch with the times? Then maybe the times need to change, because music like this deserves to be played from every open window. This is the first great record of 2004.

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